Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Carnivorous Carnival, Chapter 2

We’ve reached the final Chapter-by-Chapter blog post of the year. I’ve been writing these posts since around May. I’m enjoying sharing my thoughts on here as I read these books. I’m anticipating reaching the end of this series within the next couple of months (hopefully in April providing I can get all of my posts scheduled as I’m hoping to). I’m about 99% certain that the series I will read next will be the Twilight books which I think will be fun because I’ve never read them before but I’ve heard a lot about them.

Enough about what will be happening in four months’ time though, here’s Chapter 2 of The Carnivorous Carnival.

What Happens?

We meet Madame Lulu, the fortune teller and woman behind Olaf’s attempts to catch the Baudelaires. The children realise that they have nowhere to go and instead set about trying to find disguises that they can wear to conceal their identities. Before long Violet and Klaus are disguised as conjoined twins and Sunny is part-human/part-wolf. And then they go right on and introduce themselves to Madame Lulu.

Thoughts as I read:

One of the things I remembered about this book was that Sunny gets disguised as a super hairy child. And the picture that opens this chapter shows us exactly what that looks like. She looks a little like Taz the Tazmanian Devil. She’s got a little tail and her fingers look like claws but I can’t help but think that she looks rather cute.

And on with the chapter. It’s another long one, though I should probably stop saying that because all of the chapters in this book are quite long!

Eavesdropping – a word which here means “listening in on interesting conversations you are not invited to join” – is a valuable thing to do, and it is often an enjoyable thing to do, but it is not a polite thing to do, and like most impolite things, you are bound to get into trouble if you are caught doing it.

Snicket speaks the truth, and there is something quite enjoyable about listening in to other people’s conversations… as long as they’re not talking about you and how Olaf is going kill you. Olaf is making it easy to listen in to the conversation since he’s not speaking too quietly.

Madame Lulu is revealed to be the inspiration behind Olaf’s role as the auctioneer who could not speak English very well, please, and she’s expecting a gift from Olaf in return for her crystal gazing. Sounds like she’s got a good set up here, she tells him what he wants to hear, and he gives her gifts for it! Esme’s not impressed with this. What do these women see in this guy?!

Olaf and the gang have many questions for Madame Lulu, including where the Baudelaires are, where the Snicket file is, whether either of the Baudelaire parents survived the fire and whether or not they can have more wine:

“So many demands you make,” Madame Lulu said in her strange accent. “Madame Lulu remembers, please, when you would visit only for the pleasure of my company, my Olaf.”
“There isn’t time for that tonight,” Olaf replied quickly.

Am I the only one who thinks that maybe they’re talking about more than just asking questions?

Now we learn that the crystal ball has certain rules. You are only allowed to ask one question of it, at sunrise. Olaf plans to hang around until all of his questions have been answered. This will make staying at the carnival slightly awkward for the Baudelaires then.

Unlike most normal people, who would be horrified at the thought of Olaf hanging around for more than a day, Madame Lulu is thrilled, because they’ve not got many visitors. It seems to have dawned on her that maybe building a carnival in the middle of nowhere is not the brightest of business plans. But Olaf’s not going give Lulu any money until he’s got the Baudelaire fortune. I wouldn’t trust him unless I had that in writing… actually, I’m not sure I would trust him even if I did have it in writing!

Lulu gets slightly cold with Olaf when it’s revealed that Esme is his girlfriend, hehe. Sucks to be you, Olaf. He’s obviously a little bit worried and starts to tell the fortune teller about how he became an actor. The children obviously can’t see any of this, but they know their former guardian well enough to imagine what he looks like while he speaks, that’s convenient. The children don’t care to learn just how he became an actor so they take the chance to get away from the tent.

Klaus freaks Violet out by mentioning the risk of being eaten by wild animals. They’re sort of stuck though, because if they do manage to find someone then they’re likely to assume they’re murderers and hand them over to the police. And as adults don’t listen to them chances are they’ll not listen when the Baudelaires try to tell the truth.

Then there’s the question of Madame Lulu. Is she really getting the information from her crystal ball? Will she be able to give them the answers to the questions they have? Sunny, as usual, gets the deciding vote. ‘Sandover,’ she says, meaning ‘So we’re staying.’ Her siblings go along with this, but the next question is where to spend the night. ‘Karneez?’ Sunny asks, referring to the people who live in the caravans dotted around the carnival.

Luckily Violet’s feeling a little bit more like her normal self and heads over to Olaf’s car boot, announcing that she’s got an idea. ‘Nuts!’ is Sunny’s response to this, meaning ‘I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Violet.’ But the plan isn’t to hide in the trunk again, it’s to use the things inside to disguise themselves. Sunny is sceptical (‘Gabrowha?’), as is Klaus, but they don’t have very much choice, or time for that matter!

While looking through the detritus in the boot the children make some discoveries about Olaf. Violet finds a bit of a brass lamp (presumably the one that fell out of the window) from Uncle Monty, Klaus find an In Boutique shopping bag which must belong to Esme, and Sunny found the pantyhose covered in sawdust Olaf wore in Paltryville. They also learn that Olaf carries quite a lot of disguises. He might be evil, but he’s very well prepared!

This does give the Baudelaires quite a few options; clown and judge are mooted. Sunny finds a veil which Violet is already familiar with, announcing ‘Twicho!’ as she does. She also says ‘Ginawn!’ meaning ‘All these clothes are too big for me’. Violet’s having the same problem, but when she says ‘I’d only look freakish’ it gives Klaus an idea. ‘Whazit?’ Sunny says in response to his exclamation, I love that she’s almost speaking English now.

Klaus’s plan is to make them look like contenders for Madame Lulu’s House of Freaks, which leads to a discussion about the inappropriateness of putting people with birth defects into tents for people to look at. John Merrick (meaning Joseph Merrick) gets a mention from Klaus. Sunny says ‘Radev’ meaning ‘Somebody’s going to put a stop to us if we don’t disguise ourselves soon’. The only reference to Radev I can find is a criminal, I suppose that could be the reference that was intended.

And so Klaus and Violet don a pair of trousers and a shirt together, making them into a two-headed person. Or as would be more politically correct, two people with one body. Then they disguise themselves even further with the use of a makeup kit and some fake scars, because they’ve obviously had a hard life.

Sunny asks ‘Beriu’ (a place in Romania) which here means ‘What about me?’ Klaus suggests Sunny just squeeze into a shoe to become a person with a head and a foot, but that’s not going to work. ‘Chelish,’ she says, meaning ‘I’m too big to fit inside a shoe’ – apparently they’re not clown shoes. Instead they pull out a fake beard. And just like that the three Baudelaires are turned into conjoined twins and a hairy baby.

To make sure that they’re totally disguised Klaus has to abandon his glasses and Violet her hair ribbon. I hope she keeps it some place safe so she doesn’t have to try and think without it, like at the hospital! They also disguise their voices, Sunny is instructed to growl and suddenly they’re different people entirely. It’s not a thought that Klaus relishes particularly.

In no time at all they’re knocking on Madame Lulu’s door and introducing themselves as ‘freaks’. Lulu’s wearing an eye on a chain, one just like all those other eyes we’ve seen in the last eight books. That does not bode well.

Even worse is the fact that she invites them inside, inside to where Olaf and all of his gang are waiting. Definitely in the belly of the beast now!

Book 30 of 2014: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

I've long since accepted that I'm going to be writing this year's book review posts well into the middle of next year. A couple of years ago that would've bothered me and I would've scrambled to merge them all into shorter book reviews to get them all completed by the end of the year. Then I probably would've ended up reading some great big thick tome of a book and not had anything to post for the first three Tuesdays of the year.

I'm looking set to finish the year on 64 books so at least this way I know I've got blog posts to write for the next six months!

In a way writing these blog posts is a little bit like time travelling. Back in July and August of this year I was reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This is the one where Umbridge takes over the school and is a bit of a bitch. Meanwhile Voldemort's back but no one wants to believe that and Harry is being a generally hormonal teenager. It's a laugh a minute this one.

I'll keep this one short because it's one that I've read before and I've not really got anything new to say about it. I did enjoy this reread. It's a fair chunk of a book so it's a little bit awkward to read. Portability is becoming an increasingly important factor when I pick books now. Books that are heavy to carry around in my bag take longer to read because I'm less inclined to take them out with me if we're just nipping into town. Whereas with the earlier books they're a whole lot more portable so you can sneak a couple of pages in between shops.

I like that by this stage in the series things have become significantly darker and it is a far more grown up book than what has come previously. It's a shift that started in earnest in the last book and it continues to a very dark ending. I always think the cover of this edition looks like quite a cheerful book by contrast.

One of my favourite things about the Harry Potter books is looking out for teeny little references to things that are significant in later books. Even now, when I've read these books too many times to count, I still notice things that I don't think I've spotted before (or things that I have but have forgotten about). It's like a little challenge to myself now to see how many things from future books I can pick up on.

In my book journal review for this one I added a note to myself that I kept on thinking of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows while I was reading it. I suppose part of that is because it's starting to set Harry up as the Chosen One, a role that he plays out to its conclusion in the final book. I suspect that it's also because there's kind of a parallel here of Harry (and his friends) against authority, something which is ramped up to eleven in the last book as Voldemort takes over the Ministry.

While this isn't my favourite book in the series, I still enjoy my regular reread of it, and I really appreciate how well it slots into the series as a whole.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Carnivorous Carnival, Chapter 1

We’ve not got very much longer to go with this series now. These last few books are quite hefty so I apologise in advance for these long posts getting even longer.

I don’t normally like to end the year on an unfinished book, but I’m making an exception for this one, because I make the rules about these things so I know where the loopholes are. Apparently if you’re reading it chapter-by-chapter on your blog then it’s okay to not have finished it at the end of the year. ;-)

What Happens?

The Baudelaires are transported to Caligari Carnival where Olaf and his gang have gone to see Madame Lulu the fortune teller. The children manage to get out of the car boot but find themselves in the middle of nowhere. They try to phone Mr Poe but when they explain their plight to the operator the person on the other end of the line hangs up on them. So the children are going to have to look to the criminals to find a way to survive now.

Thoughts as I read:

As it’s a new book we kick off with a new dedication. This one says:

For Beatrice - 
Our love broke my heart,
and stopped yours.

Such a happy and cheerful start. Then again I suppose we might as well start as we mean to go on and if these books were depressing when they started then I’m not sure there’s a word to describe what they’ve become now.

If you remember the last book ended with the Baudelaires climbing into the boot of Olaf’s big black car and heading off for places unknown, scary and dangerous. This opening picture shows that they’re arriving at just such a place. There’s a big billboard which says ‘Madame Lulu at the Caligari Carnival’ and underneath that ‘What you want to hear, guaranteed!’ And oh look, there’s an eye in the middle of her crystal ball. That can only mean bad things.

It’s also worth noting a couple of other things from this picture. Firstly we can see the hook-handed man’s arm sticking out the window. Judging from the papers flying behind the car I think he’s just been littering. Also, the number plate on the car read ‘IH8 ORPNS’ hehe. Nice one Olaf.

When my workday is over, and I have closed my notebook, hidden my pen, and sawed holes in my rented canoe so that it cannot be found, I often like to spend the evening in conversation with my few surviving friends.

See what I meant about this book going beyond depressing. Snicket goes on to elaborate on the sort of things these surviving friends talk about, I won’t list them all here but none of them are anything good. After a page of this it winds up with a discussion of the saying ‘the belly of the beast’ which is where the Baudelaires are at the moment, if the belly is the car boot and the beast is Olaf’s car.

What follows is a bit of a recap about what the car is like and who else is travelling in it. We know that so I’ll skip on past it. Olaf’s troupe are complaining about the journey and the fact that they were unable to ‘go’ before they left the hospital as it was on fire. We also learn that they are currently travelling through ‘the hinterlands’ where there is nowhere for them to stop and is also miles away from the city. This will no doubt cause problems for the Baudelaires. Oh and while we’re recapping; Violet invents, Klaus reads, Sunny bites, just in case you’d forgotten.

Meanwhile we continue to listen into Olaf, Esme and the gang’s conversation. They want to celebrate the fact that everyone thinks Olaf is dead and the children did it, but Olaf won’t be satisfied until they get the Snicket file and find the Baudelaires. After all, there’s still a fortune to be stolen. Olaf comments on the fact that the Baudelaires are very lucky so they will probably have survived the fire. The children really are quite lucky, considering how many unlucky things happen to them.

When Olaf says he only needs one of them there’s a bit of speculation about which one they want. The hook-handed man wants to put Sunny in a cage again, because he’s that sort of a person. Olaf wants it to be Violet because “She’s the prettiest” because he’s that sort of a person. But as they don’t know where any of them are, they’re going to see Madame Lulu to look in her crystal ball. Apparently this is how they’ve been tracking them down each time the Baudelaires escape.

Once again there’s a place name here which needs mentioning, just because. They’re now driving down ‘Rarely Ridden Road’ which is so named because it is very bumpy, making the children’s already uncomfortable journey even more uncomfortable. Then they arrive at Caligari Carnival (I just looks up Caligari and apparently it was the name of a doctor in a 1920s horror film, I love little things like that in these books). There’s a moment when someone says they’ll get something out the boot but Olaf tells his henchman not to bother and the children hear them all walk away.

Violet asks her siblings what they should do now and Sunny, sensible as always, says ‘Merrill’ meaning ‘We’d better get out of this trunk.’ But it’s not going to be that easy, Violet will need to find a way to open the trunk mechanism. They’re surrounded by bits of Olaf’s old costumes but first the turban is discounted as being too thick and Sunny finds ‘Semja!’ which is Klaus’s shoelace, set aside as a last resort. In the end it’s the monocle cord from when Olaf became Gunther that they use to open the boot.

They’ve found themselves in the middle of nowhere in what is essentially an abandoned carnival. There’s tents and a roller coaster but nothing seems to be used much. And there’s a tent with a big eye on it, which is evidently where Olaf and his crew are with Madame Lulu. The children have been sitting in the trunk looking around, trying to work out where they should go next, especially as Olaf is likely to come back at any minute and is likely to be quite pleased to find three Baudelaires in his boot.

Sunny’s response to Klaus’s suggestion of calling the police is ‘Dragnet!’ which is hilarious. This is translated as ‘But the police think we’re murderers!’ They’re only option is Mr Poe who they all agree has been utterly useless so far but they can’t think of anyone else. Sunny points out ‘Veriz’ which I think is a reference to Verizon (an American communications company), it’s translated as ‘We’ll need money to make a phone call’.

As they don’t have any, they call the operator instead. They tell the operator that it’s an emergency at which point they’re asked “What is the exact nature of your emergency?” This takes some explaining. Violet gives a page long rundown of what’s happened to them since midway through The Vile Village and by the time she’s done the operator has hung up or something. Considering Violet’s spilled the beans about who they are and where they are I’m guessing the operator is quietly dialling the police to go an arrest them. That’d be just their luck!

Basically they’re on their own. Again. As has become fairly common over the course of the books, Violet starts to go to pieces at the realisation that there’s no one to help them. Klaus tries to reassure his sister but Sunny helpfully says ‘Ephrai’ (which I’m wondering if it’s meant to be a nod to ‘Ephraim’ though I’m not getting any link to what comes next) meaning ‘But we’re in real trouble now.’

They’re going to have to think like criminals to survive, seeing as that’s what everyone thinks they are. Luckily Olaf isn’t far away so they’ll be able to go and see exactly how criminals look after themselves.

These are bad times for the Baudelaires.

Review of 2014

I realise that we're not quite at the end of the year yet, but we've got just over two days to go and I'm not expecting anything monumental to happen (famous last words) so now seems like as good a time as any to post this.

I've managed to blog virtually every day this year, with just a few exceptions, and have even worked up to posting twice a day some days. So I figured that for my review of the year I would share my favourite post or the ones that summed things up best for each month of 2014.

January: Random Acts of Kindness
In January I got involved with the Random Acts of Kindness group on Ravelry and began making an effort to perform more Random Acts of Kindness myself. Within hours of joining the group and getting involved someone gifted me a knitting pattern I'd been lusting after for ages, The Beekeeper's Quilt. It's on hold at the moment, but I'm planning on starting back up on it in the New Year, perhaps to get it finished by the end of the year!

I've not been involved in the Random Acts of Kindness group on Ravelry in the last few months, but it's made me think about things in 'Real Life' and so I'm still trying to be randomly kind when I'm able to in my day to day life.

February: How To Write An Essay
This year has seen me complete my final course for my OU degree so I had plenty of time to reflect on all the essays I've had to write during the last five years. One day in February I was feeling particularly reflective and so put down some notes on just how I go about writing an essay. It was one of those blog posts that began as something else entirely but that I'd been kind of wanting to write for a while and I notice that it gets a little bit of traffic even eleven months on, so hopefully some people are finding my little hints and tips helpful.

March: All For Charity...
In March I got the opportunity to go down to Manchester to take calls for Sport Relief. It was an event that had been on the cards for me the previous year and I'd been unable to go so I was thrilled when I got the chance to go this year. It was a crazy couple of days, involving a 5am start, about four trains (each way) plus the obligatory ferry crossings, taking calls until after midnight and staying in a very nice hotel.

But the experience was fantastic and I loved every minute of my time taking the calls. If I got the chance to do it again at some point I would definitely jump at the chance.

April: My Birthday & A Trip to Oban
So I couldn't pick just one post to share for April. It was a busy month on my blog what with the A to Z Challenge but it was also my birthday and so that gave me plenty to blog about. And I had a lovely 28th birthday with lots of nice gifts and a trip to Oban where I picked up a whole bunch of books (many of which are sadly still sitting on the bookcase waiting to be read, I'm getting to them slowly)!

One of my gifts was The Mentalist TV series, which we're just getting read to start watching in the next week or so and another was Ripper Street, which we just finished watching a couple of weeks back. So my books aren't the only things that I've taken a while to get to. I've only just started using the yarn I bought in the wool shop in Oban that weekend as well!

May: Rat Babies
May brought two new additions to the Click Clan; Yoda and Wicket, a pair of six and a half week old rat babies. They took a little while to get properly hand tame, but they've turned into a lovely pair of squishy boys with their own little unique little quirks. I'd missed having rats in the house (isn't that a bizarre sentence for most normal people to type?). I love having long evenings and Saturdays at home when I can bring them down in their little cage and let them pop in and out as they like.

They're actually due another blog post about them some time soon, I'm just holding off until I can get a video of them putting themselves back to bed (Wicket just hops in while Yoda waits for a kiss goodnight). My other option for my May post was the writing (and submission) of my final OU essay for my degree, but I decided that the rats rank higher than that. Plus they're a lot cuter for this month's picture!

June: The Bumbly-Bee
In June I experienced my first ever bumble bee sting. You're probably thinking that I probably had quite an uneventful month if that's the best I can come up with. I should add that I did do plenty of other things, but the bumble bee sting definitely ranks up there as one of the most memorable of the year. Just thinking about it brings back the memory of that sting!

Looking back it's also pretty hilarious now, though it most definitely wasn't at the time! The fact that as I felt my finger exploding with pain I thought that the best course of action was to try and exit the moving car which was travelling at roughly forty miles per hour was, uh, evidence that I wasn't thinking clearly. I suspect Mr Click has since contemplated fitting child locks to the front passenger seat. On the plus side, it did prompt us to get the air conditioning fixed which gave us a nice daytrip to Largs!

July: An Attila
I'm beginning to realise that this year has kind of been the Year of the Degree because for July's most memorable post I've picked the one where I announced my degree classification. I was understandably quite pleased with my result and so I announced it to much excitement and many exclamation points.

Suffice to say I got a 2.1 and I was very pleased about it. And we had cake.

August: Scotland to Gloucester and Back
August was a busy month for catching up with family, which included a trip down south to my cousin's wedding. It was a bit of a flying visit and I had a lovely time at the wedding (despite my cousin's son throwing up all over his bed after the big day and me being the least green about cleaning it up).

The journey there and back again was certainly memorable and I felt like the best way to blog about it was via a simple list of things that I learnt during my day and night on a coach. It was certainly educational, not least because I discovered that I can travel long distances by coach without spontaneously combusting, so it will be something I can do again in the future!

September: Texts To Myself
Compared to August, September was a positively quiet month, during which I recovered from my jaunt down south and started preparations for Christmas. As is traditional, the preparations for Christmas began with preparations for NaNoWriMo. I started writing again and planning stories that I would write during November, oh, and sending myself texts in the middle of the night about crucial story details. As you do.

October: Reunion & Edinburgh
If September was a quiet month then October just sort of exploded with busy-ness! We began with my Mum coming to visit at the beginning of the month, after not seeing each other for far, far too long, and then ended with a trip across to Edinburgh for the big graduation (though that didn't really get blogged about during October, aside from one little post about my planet sized brain)!

I think of all the months this year, October was definitely the top one. Not saying that the rest haven't been good in their own ways, but October was totally awesome and when you thought it couldn't get awesomer, it did!

November: I blogged about Edinburgh again, and again, and again!
November is obviously the month of NaNoWriMo, but this year it was also the month of the Edinburgh posts. I just had so much to say that there wasn't the time or the space to cover it all in October. If you think that this Review post is long, it would've been nothing compared to the length of my original blog post about our Edinburgh weekend!

And then there was National Novel Writing Month as well. I did pretty well with that, hitting 100,000 words over the course of twenty-nine days on two different stories. And I didn't hate one of them. That's a successful NaNo in my book.

December: Guest Bloggers
And here we are at December where I'm making plans for the coming blogging year (I've made a spreadsheet and everything! and trying to decide which of this month's posts is my favourite (not counting the last ones still to come over the next couple of days). I have to admit that I've really loved having my guest bloggers pop by, it's the first time I did it and I'm pleased it was so successful. I was worried that I wouldn't have anyone wanting to take part and not only did I get participants, but they got comments on their posts as well. It's definitely something I'm going to try again in the future.

So it's been a busy and eventful year both on and off the blog. I'm looking forward to seeing what will come in 2015.

Which are your favourite blog posts that you've seen this year, either here, on your own blog, or elsewhere on the internet? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Weekly Rundown: Giving & Receiving

I hope everyone's had a good Christmas. I've had a brilliant one myself, with the exception of a period when I had to play nurse to my father-in-law's toe after he dropped a bread board on it. I'm hoping we won't be adding traditional trip to Casualty to our future.

One of my favourite things about the run up to Christmas is selecting gifts for my friends and family and then seeing what they think when they unwrap them.

One of the big successes of the day was Tara's gifts; a brand new collar, some treats and a selection of squeaky toys. The ball on a rope lasted ten minutes, the squeaky candy cane another ten after that, the squeaky reindeer was confiscated after his antler started to come off (and also for having the most annoying squeak in the world) but so far the fluffy present/bone thing is holding up pretty well.

I had great fun choosing gifts for Mr Click and I think it shows how well I know my husband considering how pleased he was with everything. The big slipper socks couldn't have come at a better time seeing as the ones I got him last year have fallen apart in the last ten days. I also found him an insulated mug with campervans on it, another big hit.

He already knew that he was getting the box set of The A Team but he wasn't expecting Elementary. Given his love of all things Sherlock I thought it would be a safe bet. There was this wonderful moment where he didn't know what it was that he'd just unwrapped and then realisation dawned and gave me this great big smile.

Oh, and I finished knitting the second of a pair of socks (the pair I actually started when I was going down south for my cousin's wedding) for Mr Click. He declared them perfect, though found they are a little too warm to wear over another pair of socks, even if it is cold and frosty out!

I had plans to take a nice photo of some of the presents I received, but then got distracted updating my list of books from the last couple of years on Goodreads (and eating lots of yummy foods and sweets) and so taking a photo went out the window. Until I sat down to write this post this morning when I realised that I was going to have to take a quick snap for this post. Oops!

That's a photo of some of my favourites this year. The book is The You & Me Book which I saw on Amazon earlier in the year. It's a journal you fill in with your other half to record all the things you love about each other, favourite things, quirks, things you want to remember and a host of other things.

Since I got my Wreck This Journal and Finish This Book I've fallen in love with these 'interactive books' and I've even cracked out my handwritten journal again. I've got a massive wishlist on Amazon of all these books that I plan to slowly collect.

I've also got some very nice fluffy socks (always a hit). It's been a good year for socks as that was part of my work Secret Santa gift. Mr Click also filled my stocking with Mel Brooks films. I've been wanting to get Robin Hood Men In Tights, Dracula Dead and Loving It and Space Balls for ages, but he's included a whole bunch I haven't heard of or seen before so I'm thinking that's going to occupy our Saturday afternoons for the coming months.

The Desolation of Smaug was sort of expected. I had been slightly worried that I wouldn't get it when there weren't any Smaug-shaped parcels under the tree. Luckily my in-laws had taken care of that. And then there was Bones. I've been begging for Bones for about three years and I wasn't really expecting it this year. Mr Click had wrapped it up in such a way that it didn't look like a box at all. I thought it was going to be clothes or something! He said he loved how my face lit up when I realised what I was unwrapping.

And the highlight of Christmas Day was probably calling my Aunt's house where half my family were gathered and I got to speak to family members who I've not spoken to in nearly twenty years. I'll be doing Christmas all over again in a couple of weeks in Wales and I'm really looking forward to round two!

Hope you've enjoyed the holiday and had fun giving and receiving gifts.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

TV Series Review: Doctor Who Christmas Special - Last Christmas

As has become traditional, the whole family settled down on Christmas Day around about teatime, when we were feeling the need to top up the turkey reserves, to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special.

This year's was titled Last Christmas and featured Nick Frost in the role of Santa. How perfect is his name for playing Santa Claus?! It saw the Doctor and Clara wind up at the North Pole, along with a group of scientists and a bunch of people with weird alien creatures attached to their faces. Within minutes everyone is fighting for their lives against this alien invasion.

Just a regular Christmas for the Doctor and his companion then.

And I really liked it. The face invading aliens were suitably creepy and the dream/not-dreaming stuff is nice and timey-wimey, or perhaps that should be dreamy-weamy. It was basically Doctor Who does Inception! At the North Pole! At Christmas! What's not to love about that?!

I do think that Nick Frost rather upstaged the rest of the cast as Santa, because he was just awesome. I loved the reference to the fact that he basically breaks into millions of people's houses one night a year. Not quite Richard Attenborough's sort of Santa, but good fun nonetheless.

There was something very Silence of the Library/Forest of the Dead about the dream sequence with Clara and Danny. I mentioned it to Mr Click as we were watching it and then not thirty seconds later the Doctor pointed out that she couldn't remember how she'd gotten to that point because that's how dreams work, which is pretty much what was said to Donna in Forest of the Dead.

Clara and the Doctor were just awesome as ever. Up until the last series I'd not really enjoyed Clara so much as a companion but with Peter Capaldi's Doctor she's really become a compelling character and this episode was no different. Twelve cares about her in his own special way and she needs him, more now that she hasn't got Danny (though it was nice to see him pop in again, I suspect that they'll be bringing him back again next year one way or another).

Oh and I have to mention how cool it was to see Maureen Beattie in this episode. She and her father were patrons of our local drama group and came to some of our shows. We randomly bumped into her the day after we'd moved into our cottage on the estate and stopped for a good chat, despite the fact it was chucking it down and Mr Click and I were all muddy. I spent a good ten minutes of the episode trying to work out whether or not it was her, before giving in and checking IMDB to confirm my suspicions.

Of the North Pole scientist guys I'd quite like to see Shona again. She was a little annoying, but in a good way and I really felt for her wanting to cling onto the dream a little longer. I think everyone's had one of those dreams where things were really cool and different, then you wake up (or start to wake up) and realise that it's not real and just want to go back to that place for a few more minutes.

I was hoping for a preview of the next series at the end of this episode, but no such luck. All the same, I'm really enjoying Capaldi's tenure as the Doctor and I can't wait to see what the New Year brings there.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Carnivorous Carnival

So that we can get back on track with the regular Chapter-by-Chapter schedule, I thought I'd introduce the next book now, then we can get started on the first chapter next Monday. My New Year's resolution is going to involve being way more organised with my blog, I'm designing a spreadsheet and everything!

Anyway, this book is called The Carnivorous Carnival and takes place at, you guessed it, a carnival. To further hammer home this point the cover image shows a fortune teller gazing into a crystal ball. Unfortunately for the Baudelaires, the future is looking none too rosy as they can be clearly seen in the ball, along with a large mouth full of sharp pointy teeth. I'm hazarding a guess at the mouth belonging to a tiger.

The spine of this book is purple and the border along the edge of it is red with carnival tickets running along it. It took me a moment to figure out what they were.

I remember very little of this book. I know that the children end up working as attractions at the carnival. Violet and Klaus pretend to be a person with two heads and Sunny becomes 'Chabo the Wolf Baby'... I think. I don't remember how the 'carnivorous' aspect of it comes in, though from the front cover I'm going to guess that it involves tigers, or some other big cats.

Other than that? I remember nothing.

It'll make it a fun read at least.

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Hostile Hospital, Chapter 13

Are you still in a post-turkey coma? Let's wrap up Christmas with the final chapter of The Hostile Hospital.

What Happens?

Violet sets Klaus to making a rubber band cord to help them escape but struggles to think properly until Sunny makes her a ribbon to tie up her hair. She then creates a substitute intercom speaker in order to persuade the crowds to move away from the area where the Baudelaires will land, and they all bungy jump out of the window. They're not sure where to go next when Olaf pulls up nearby in his big black car, he and his crew are heading off to find the Snicket file, and the children know that the only way to escape from the hospital and the crowd of people looking for them is to climb into the car.

Thoughts as I read:

I quite like the picture that's opening this last chapter. It shows a window with smoke billowing out of it and a rope that has been made out of something which I believe to be elastic bands wiggling down the page. In the very bottom right corner you can see a pair of hands holding onto it. I'm guessing this is a picture of the Baudelaires' escape. Let's see how that happens.

In the opening paragraph we learn that Violet won her first inventing competition at the age of five with an automatic rolling pin. We're reminded that while she's never had to invent anything with both hands tied behind her back (give them time, we've still got another five books to go), she's quite adept at inventing things when there's a bit of pressure on her. Right now she's trying to invent something whilst being hindered by the after effects of the anaesthetic.

Luckily Klaus and Sunny are there to help her. Right now they're helpfully saying things like "... The fire is consuming this entire hospital, and we have to get out of here quickly." And 'Rallam' which means 'And Olaf's associates are chasing us.' Way to take the pressure off guys.

Looking out the window they establish that they're quite a way up, though it's hard to tell for certain through all the smoke. That's not a good sign. Sunny suggests 'Climb?' as Klaus realises that there's a massive crowd of people right outside the building. The crowd includes the V.F.D. lot who are still singing their song. Time and place for it, really?

Violet closes her eyes to think and Klaus worries that she's falling asleep again. Jeez Klaus, give her space to think for a second. Violet's realised that the only way to get past the crowd is to distract them before they climb down. There's not much time to think though, a noise outside prompts Sunny to say 'Kesalf' which means 'That's Olaf's associate. It sounds like it's entering the Ward for People with Nasty Rashes. We'd better hurry.'

So Violet instructs Klaus to start making a cord out of the boxes of rubber bands in the cupboard. If it wasn't for the picture at the beginning I'd suspect that she was just doing this to shut him up long enough to think in peace! Klaus keeps asking questions which aren't helping Violet as she can't focus properly. Sunny says 'Help' which Klaus thinks is his little sister calling for help, but instead she uses her sharp teeth to cut a strip from her medical coat, then says 'Ribbon'. That'll help Violet to think better.

And just like that Violet's doing a lot better. She asks Sunny to open a can of soup, to which Sunny replies 'Treen' meaning 'Yes - I opened one earlier, to help decode the anagrams.' In no time at all, which is just as well because they've not got much, Klaus has made a rubber band cord and Sunny's opened the tin of soup. All the while the fire is creeping closer and closer; smoke's coming into the cupboard now.

Violet's invention is revealled to be a 'spurious intercom' as she instructs Sunny to make a hole in the bottom of the tin can. Sunny's response is 'Pietrisycamollviadelrechiotemexity' but she does it anyway. Then the can is held near the window and Violet speaks through the hole pretending to be Babs, claiming Mattathias has resigned and that the Baudelaires are in the unfinished bit of the hospital.

Amazingly this ploy actually seems to be working, though Hal wants to stay behind in case they come out of the finished bit of the hospital. Violet takes up the Babs act again, telling everyone it's too dangerous to stay where they are and so they all move away.

This prompts a little dilemma for the Baudelaires. In the course of this book they've tricked people, worn disguises, Sunny adds 'anagrams', and they've been lying to people. Violet's a little worried that they might be becoming villains. Klaus tries to justify it in that they're doing it to save their lives and Violet decides that now is a good time to argue that Olaf could say the exact same thing. Sunny says 'Different' but Violet still wants to press the point. I'm not saying it's not an interesting and important discussion for the children to have, but I don't think that in the supply closet of a burning hospital is the best place to have it.

They are interrupted by the sound of the person who looks like neither a man nor a woman blundering around outside the door and Violet announces that they will bounce out of the window. Sunny is none too sure about this 'Bounce?' she ask. Violet explains the concept of bungy jumping and the Devil's Tongue knot gets a mention, as that's how she'll secure it to the building. Klaus isn't too sure about it but when Violet suggests that she should go first to test it, Klaus firmly tells her that they're not going to take turns. 'Together' Sunny says, the younger Baudelaires haven't recovered from having to leave Violet behind earlier on in the book. They've got a point.

Violet is worried about her invention not holding them all and so they could all be killed, enabling Olaf to win. But Klaus reminds her, and us, of the note from the Baudelaire file. Someone survived the fire and they will too. Klaus also tells her that the fact they don't leave anyone behind is what separates from from Count Olaf. Aww.

The next bit just needs to be copied out in full because I do like it:

"I'm scared," Violet said.
"I'm frightened," Klaus said.
"Sheer terror," Sunny said, and the associate kicked the door again, forcing a few sparks through the crack in the door. The Baudelaires looked at one another, and each child grabbed the rubber band cord with one hand. With their other hands they clasped one another, and then, without another word, they leaped out of the window of Heimlich Hospital. 

And that's the end of the page. We then get nearly a page of Snicket telling us things that he does not know. There are quite a lot of things that he does not know, there's also one thing that he does know, that's that the children were only on the second floor and Violet's invention worked so they made it to the ground safely.

The hospital, meanwhile, is not such a safe place to be as it is being completely consumed by the flames. And the children don't actually know where they should go next. Sunny yells 'Run!' as her siblings discuss the fact that soon the crowd will realise that they aren't where 'Babs' said they were. Klaus, who has been waiting for a moment like this for some time, orders his sisters to stay down low because he read about how to breathe in fires in The Encyclopedia of Escaping Arson.

As they're crouched down on the ground, hidden by the smoke, a large black car pulls up and Olaf calls for Esme to come and get in. Esme's got all the costumes and their associates are right behind her. We also hear Olaf mentioning that he couldn't find the Snicket file in the Library of Records, but he thinks he knows where it might be. And we're shown just how happy Olaf is to leave someone behind, completely unlike the Baudelaires, as he announces that he doesn't care to find out if the person who neither looks like a man nor a woman has survived.

And they're heading off for the real V.F.D. to get the Snicket file before someone else, known only as 'You-Know-Who' gets it. Great, so now they're trying to get to it before Voldemort does!

While Olaf's associates are all faffing around getting into the car, Violet realises what they need to do. They have to get into the boot of the car. Sunny is shocked by this suggestion saying 'Culech!' meaning 'Getting in the trunk is the same thing as getting captured!' But Violet insists that this is the only way that they will get the rest of the file, bring Olaf to justice and 'Ezan' which means 'Or find out if one of our parents really survived the fire.'

Violet gives her brother and sister a little pep talk about how much they've survived and how they need to be reunited with the parent that may have survived the fire. So they rush in, just as one of the white-faced women throws more costumes on top of them. It's only when they're in the boot of the car that Violet wonders whether they'll be able to breathe, luckily there are bullet holes to let the air in and Sunny adds 'Golos' meaning 'It'll have to do until something better comes along.'

And so that's where we leave the Baudelaires, huddled in the boot of a car, about to be driven somewhere with one of their mortal enemies.

That is not a comfortable place to be.

The final picture of the book shows the three children huddled together with the detritis in the boot of the car. There's a spare tyre, a bottle of wine, a mask and top hat, then there's a clue to the next book; a crystal ball and a flyer for a carnival. That'll be where we're heading next then.

Then we've got Snicket's letter to his editor at the very end. This one is the remains of a typewritten letter that has been all torn up, telling us about The Carnivorous Carnival. We'll get started on that one next week.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Hope that everyone reading this is having a lovely day, that Santa has been good to you and that you're spending your time with the people you love.

I've really enjoyed having friends stop by the blog in the run up to Christmas this year. I'm thinking I might have some more guest bloggers in the future. It's been fitting somehow, as I always think of Christmas as a time for people to come together and I've had some virtual visitors to my little spot on the web.

So I decided to answer the questions that I set for each of my guests this month, because it's been fun to see the similarities and differences in the way that people celebrate the holidays.

1. Let's start at the beginning. What's your earliest memory of Christmas?

I remember wearing a blue velvetty dress when I must have been about two or three and looking at the Christmas tree. I loved the lights and there was something about the smell of the tinsel as well. Even now when I smell that sort of musty, crinkly tinsel smell I remember the tree being so much taller than me and the excitement of all these presents appearing underneath it.

2. Do you or your family have any special Christmas traditions? Are there any that you'd like to start in the future?

Mr Click and I got married on Christmas Eve so our anniversary has become a bit of a Christmas tradition in that we exchange a Christmas tree decoration each year as an anniversary gift. It was something we started before we got married so now we have a selection of ornaments, each one with a special meaning. Since we've been married we try to tie the decorations to the material of that year's anniversary gift. Last's fruit and flowers theme was a bit tricky, this year was wood which was a lot easier to find!

In the future I'd like to get an advent calendar with pockets or drawers that we can put slips of paper with Christmas/winter activities into. I like the idea of having things like 'Make paper snowflakes' or 'Drink hot chocolate with marshmallows' but not knowing which will come out on which day. I'm just looking for the perfect advent calendar to use for it.

Oh, and and I suppose that watching every film in our massive Christmas film collection in the run up to the big day counts as one of our traditions too.

3. When do the decorations go up in your house? When do you take them down?

When I was younger it used to be the first weekend after the 2nd of December (so we could get my Nan's birthday out the way), now I'm in my own place we get them up on the 1st and don't take them down until the very last day, Twelfth Night. I have great fun decorating the house and the tree and start planning in November where everything is going to go. My dream is for my house to look like the children's toy department in Elf!

4. You're sitting down to Christmas dinner, what's on your plate?

The traditional Christmas turkey, roast potatoes, stuffing, parsnips, sprouts, the works. I was vegetarian for about six years and when I decided that the time had come to start eating meat again, it was in the run up to Christmas so I could have turkey on Christmas Day.

Last year when Mr Click's parents did a capon for Christmas dinner instead of turkey, I had Mr Click cook us a roast dinner of our own the week before to make up for it so I wasn't going completely without!

5. How about some favourites? What's your all-time favourite Christmas song?

This is such a hard question to answer, which is silly, because I wrote it. I've got roughly five hundred Christmas songs on my Kindle at the moment, but if I have to pick just one then it would have to be White Christmas.

I am especially partial to the way that Taylor Swift does it.

6. It's not Christmas until you've watched which film?

We've got over thirty Christmas films and we watch all over them each year through November and December. It's really a tie between my two favourites: White Christmas and Muppet Christmas Carol. When I was in Halls at Uni I sat in my room in the last couple of weeks of term, watching White Christmas on my laptop, feeling really ridiculously emotional and homesick. I'd never really been that fussed for it up until then, but something made me fall in love with it that night.

And I've watched Muppet Christmas Carol every year in the build up to Christmas, including the year when I spent Christmas in America with my Uncle and his family. I know the whole thing off by heart... because I'm weird like that.

7. Do you have a favourite book to read at Christmastime?

I have two. One is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol which I used to read in bed on Christmas Eve until I got old enough to have busy things to do on Christmas Eve and so now I read it as soon as December strikes. The other is J.R.R. Tolkien's Letters to Father Christmas which we used to get out of the library when I was little and have two beautiful editions of depending on whether I'm reading it at home, or leaving the house with it.

8. You can spend this Christmas anywhere, anytime, with any person. Describe it.

I love the idea of renting out some big old manor house or castle somewhere in the middle of nowhere and having a massive family Christmas with my family and Mr Click's. We'd all get up and younger family members could do stockings (and some of the not-so-young family members could have one too) then have breakfast all together at a big long table. Then more presents together in a big room with a big tree and fire place. Perhaps walks together before dinner, then snuggling up to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special in the evening while we eat more food and play with our new toys.

All I have to do is win the lottery and it will totally happen.

9. Dear Santa, this Christmas I would like...

I'd quite like to have a little person to share future Christmases with. Miracle on 34th Street has taught me that this is a bit of a tall order and there is some waiting involved, so I'm willing to wait a while longer. I'll also echo Mr Click here and say that having a White Christmas would be lovely, this year would be perfect for it, since I'm off work until Monday which gives us plenty of time for a little smattering of snow that can clear away before it gets too inconvenient.

Thanks for stopping by this Christmas. Now go eat turkey, give gifts, play with your new things and hug your family.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Not-So Wordless Wednesday: 5th Wedding Anniversary

I normally just post a picture on a Wednesday, but as it's my fifth wedding anniversary (and also my blog, so I can do what I want) I decided to go for something a little different.

So here's the song I always think of as being mine and Mr Click's, after all, it's all about being in love at Christmastime and it's a cheesy Disney one. What could be better?

Happy Anniversary Mr Click. Thanks for putting up with me for the last five years, fancy doing it for another five?

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Hostile Hospital, Chapter 12

We're so close to the end of this book now. This is the final post this side of Christmas. I'll be finishing up the book on Boxing Day. I'm also hoping that having a nice five day weekend will give me time to get a crack on with the next book... which I've not even taken off of the bookcase yet so can't remember what it's called!

What Happens?

The Baudelaires are completely trapped and Esme intends to kill two of them, while keeping the third to get the Baudelaire fortune, when Klaus manages to wheel the gurney out of the operating theatre towards freedom. They're almost stopped by Hal, one of Olaf's associates and the volunteers, eventully reaching a dead end in one of the wards. Violet finally comes around from the anaesthetic and they all take cover in a supply closet, where Violet begins to formulate an invention.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter's picture kind of goes across two pages. Sort of. If you can count the little face mask which I'm guessing Sunny has dropped on page 212 as part of the main picture. The main picture is on page 213 and shows Violet on her gurney, still unconscious, while Sunny rides along and Klaus pushes his sisters. They're moving along at quite a speed so I'm guessing that's how they're going to make their getaway.

We get a little bit more info about Snicket here. As usual none of it really enlightens us. He used to be happy, successful and in love, but now he's alone (apart from the tattoo on his left ankle) and typewriterless. It's a cruel twist of fate that led him to this situation and a cruel twist of fate is exactly what the Baudelaires are experiencing right now, as Mattathias's voice comes from the intercom. The one good thing about this is that it helps to bring Violet round a little more.

Mattathias/Olaf announces that not only have the Baudelaires started a fire in the Library of Records, that fire has now spread through 'the Sore Throat Ward, the Stubbed Toe Ward, and the Accidentally Swallowed Something You Shouldn't Have Ward'. I can't help but wonder which ward you would end up in if you swallowed something you shouldn't have and it gave you a sore throat... After telling everyone to catch the Baudelaires, Olaf does have the decently to suggest that they might like to rescue some of the trapped patients. Could it be that he's not all bad? Or is it just that I'm picturing him as Jim Carrey and we're watching the end of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas as I read this.

At the moment the Baudelaires are looking pretty trapped at the moment. Klaus has also realised that all the evidence seems to be against them at the moment. The audience is calling for the Baudelaires to be arrested, but Esme speaks just loud enough for Klaus to hear to let him know that she's going to capture one of the Baudelaires. She intends to use her super sharp stiletto heels to kill two of the children, allowing them to keep the third to get the Baudelaire fortune.

This gives Klaus the chance to utter this brilliant line:

"You'll never get your hands on our fortune," Klaus said, "or your shoes on our throats."

Esme has a pretty good go anyway, in front of an entire room full of people. And even though Klaus points out exactly what she's doing, no one believes that she's trying to kill them. Hal doesn't believe them because they're still wearing their fake doctor outfits, and the fact Klaus still holds a rusty knife isn't helping much either.

Mattathias/Olaf has told his flunkies that whoever captures the Baudelaires will get to pick where they go for dinner. This motivates them all to make a grab for the Baudelaires and poor Klaus is stuck in the middle of it with a baby and an unconscious sister. He's still got the knife but as he's one of the good guys in this book there's no way he's going to be able to use it.

But they don't know that. So he brandishes the rusty knife and gets into a debate with the hook-handed man about whether he has the courage to use it:

"It doesn't take courage to kill someone," Klaus said. "It takes a severe lack of moral stamina."

Oh Klaus is getting all the best lines in this chapter!

He then just gets even more awesome by throwing the knife onto the floor and pushing the gurney in the direction of the door. They get past Olaf's associates but they can't get past Hal, who grabs the gurney and stops them from going any further. Sunny takes care of that though and bites Hal's hand. To be fair she does say 'Sorry' as she does it, but I don't think that's going to help their reputation any.

Hal lets go and soon the Baudelaires are rolling on down the corridor as Violet starts to open her eyes. At this point Mattathias breaks in with another announcement ordering everyone to catch the Baudelaires and also to consider evacuating the building as it's kinda on fire. Sunny says 'Norzi!' to this, which from Klaus's reaction I think means 'faster!'

Violet is slowly coming round, but it takes time to come round from anaesthetic which I'm guessing isn't helped by being pushed at speed through a burning hospital. Sunny yells 'Door!' as they head towards the exit from the Surgical Ward, which is still being guarded bythe person who looks like neither a man nor a woman and there's a bunch of volunteers here too. Everyone joins in the chase as Klaus pleads with Violet to wake up.

It's all very exciting. Sunny spots some 'Stairs!' which Klaus steers towards and they bump on down them, pausing to consult a map on the way. 'Dleen!' Sunny says which means 'We can't continue down the staircase - look!' because if they keep on going down they're going to run straight into the fire. Unfortunately they can't go back up the stairs because there's a whole host of people after them up there, which Sunny sums up succinctly with 'No up'. This leaves them with no choice but to go through the Ward for People with Nasty Rashes, demonstrating his sense of humour, Snicket describes this as a 'rash decision', hehe.

The latest announcement from Mattathias is for everyone except his associates to leave the building, the plan being that either the children will get out and be caught outside, or won't and will die in the fire. So the kids hurry into the Ward for People with Nasty Rashes, only to find that they're trapped. There's a fire ahead of them and a crowd of angry people behind them. The only option is to hide. Sunny asks 'Where?' Their choices are somewhat limited right now.

There is a handily positioned Supply Closet nearby and Sunny asks 'Glaynop?' which isn't translated but we can work out what she means. They don't have anywhere else to hide but it might buy them a few more minutes. The last time they had to hide in a supply closet it did give Klaus and Sunny the means to find Violet, so perhaps they shouldn't write it off too soon.

And lo and behold, once they get inside the cupboard Violet starts to look a little bit more like her old self, looks around the room and clearly begins to formulate the plan for an invention.

So perhaps they'll make it out of the building alive yet... we'll find out after Christmas!

Book 29 of 2014: And it's goodnight from him... by Ronnie Corbett

For Christmas last year I bought Mr Click the Complete Two Ronnies collection on DVD that we started watching a short time later. Although it was dated in some places, we both really enjoyed it. Then in May this year we went to pick up Yoda and Wicket, stopped in at a charity shop on the way through and I spotted Ronnie Corbett's And it's goodnight from him.... It was only £2 so I picked it up.

This is a biography of The Two Ronnies going right back to the beginning for both of them, then looking at how they met, their time together and the show that made them famous, following them right through to Ronnie Barker's death and what has happened since then. It's quite a unique look at the pair, coming from one half of them rather than an outsider, and includes lots of pictures as well as excerpts from scripts.

I think one of the best ways to describe this book is that it is quite simply really nice. It's one half of a pair of friends talking about his life with another close friend and colleague. I'm so used to modern biographies which seem to focus on scandals or disagreements and falling outs between people, this book doesn't have any of that. And you don't get the impression that it's because bad points might have been glossed over, instead it's just that Barker and Corbett weren't those sorts of people. In fact, at any point where there's any hint of a problem, Corbett is quick to say this was due to himself or a misunderstanding. It's just nice.

I also found this book very sensitive to the memory of Ronnie Barker. The final chapters deal with his declining health, his death and funeral. When books are published which deal with people who aren't able to defend themselves against what has been written, I always worry a little. There's nothing like that in here though, you get a sense of how much Corbett cared for Barker and simply wants readers to know the man that he knew.

Having recently finished watching all of the TV series it was nice to see the little extracts from the shows and sketches. I was especially pleased to see that some of the ones I classed as my favourites were also that favourites of both Corbett and Barker as well. The photos were a nice addition too because some of them came from their own private collections, as well as a copy of a note from Barker to Corbett, so are things that otherwise I probably never would have seen.

I'd definitely recommend any fans of Barker and Corbett to read this book. And modern celebrities could learn a little from reading this too; you don't need scandal to sell books and be a celebrity, having talent and being an all-round nice person can be enough too.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Hostile Hospital, Chapter 11

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm having to write this on my Kindle as opposed to my laptop because I was an idiot and forgot to bring it home with me at the weekend. If there's anything a little bit weird or screwy with the formatting of this post, that'll be why.

What Happens?

Olaf's associates announce that Dr Tocuna and Nurse Flo will perform the operation on Violet, so Klaus and Sunny try to stall for time in order to give Violet time to wake up. They delay things for a little while by pointing out that all the paperwork needs to be checked. Unfortunately Esme shows up with the pale-faced ladies who are also pretending to be Dr Tocuna and Nurse Flo, revealling to everyone assembled that they are the Baudelaires everyone is looking for. And just when things can't get any worse, Hal shows up with some bad news about the Library of Records.

Thoughts as I read:

There's a long picture on this page that stretches from the top to the bottom, showing Violet lying on the gurney at the centre of the operating theatre with lots of people sitting in the seats above her waiting for proceedings to start. I think I can see Olaf and Esme and there are a whole bunch of Volunteers, complete with balloons, up there as well. Because after you've had your head chopped off, a smiley face balloon will definitely help you feel better!

We're told that operating theatres are not as popular as other types of theatres. I suppose it depends on the sort of person you are and what you're into I guess. Operating theatres are clearly bad places as people can be made to hurt there, it could be argued that there's usually a good reason for someone being there and hopefully the operation will help them to not hurt. Unfortunately Heimlich Hospital's operating theatre is not one of these nice fluffy operating theatres. If you're in there, well, good luck.

As Dr Flacutono is pioneering this fantastic new operation there are lots of doctors sitting around waiting to watch history being made, there's also a host of Volunteers and nurses as well. Bizarrely, everyone applauds when Violet is wheeled into the room, it's a little more like a movie theatre rather than an operating theatre.

The two associates have taken on the roles of Dr Flacutono (who will be cutting off Violet's head) and Dr O. Lucafont (who will be hosting the event). They get everyone warmed up and then introduce Klaus and Sunny as Dr Tocuna and Nurse Flo. Look, more anagram fun! The hook-handed man actually refers to them all as performers, but no one notices this and they're allowed to continue, rather than being arrested for attempted murder. I don't think much of the medical schools in this world!

They even go as far as to tell the assembled crowd that there is a fair amount of risk involved in the procedure and that the patient might die, but it's a chance they're willing to take. Then comes the revelation that Klaus and Sunny are expected to perform the operation. I wonder if this means that they're actually on to them, what better way to make them suffer than by making them take responsibility for killing their big sister.

When Klaus asks Sunny what they should do Sunny, ever the quick thinker, says 'Stall' which is translated as 'We'll try to postpone the operation as long as we can, Klaus.' So Klaus starts wracking his brains trying to think of something he's read in the past that might be useful in this situation, at this point Snicket points out that we don't always read the information we need at the time we actually need it:

You might read a book on how to have a successful marriage, when the only woman you will ever love has married someone else and then perished one terrible afternoon.

Snicket really can't let go, can he?

Klaus decides that the best way to delay the decapitation of his sister is to give a little lecture of his own. He's going to tell everyone about their surgical tools. Sunny's response is 'Knife?' For a moment Olaf's associates are annoyed, telling them to get on with it, but Klaus explains that this is essential to fool everyone into thinking it's a real operation and is allowed to continue reciting what he read in A Complete History of Surgical Tools. He goes right back to what the ancients used knives for as well as how they were made, with Sunny joining in with 'Teeth' to help with his explanation.

While Klaus and Sunny are explaining, Violet starts to stir a little bit. They need to keep everyone distracted for long enough for the anaesthetic to wear off, though what will happen then I don't know. The bald guy is starting to get twitchy now, but Klaus has moved on to talk about What Happens to Wet Metal as he explains all about rust. As everyone applauds this latest bit of information Sunny says 'Clap!' but they're starting to lose the crowd and Olaf's associates are getting suspicious, in part due to the fact that Sunny has been nibbling Violet's neck in an attempt to wake up her sister.

After looking at Violet for a moment and wondering how he can cut her without hurting her, Klaus says that he can't do the operation yet. Sunny helps him out and says 'Paperwork!' After all, they can't complete the operation until all the paperwork has been completed. A doctor in the audience immediately calls for Hal as he's the one who has to verify all the hospital paperwork. Olaf's associates at getting quite annoyed now as none of this was part of the plan, although the rest of the room are willing to go along with anything that Klaus and Sunny say.

Of course mentioning paperwork hasn't helped the sticky situation get any less sticky, especially as at this moment Esme Squalor shows up with the real fake Dr Tocuna and Nurse Flo. Things start to get a little confusing in the operating theatre now. Klaus claims that Esme has clearly lost her mind, then Esme mentions that the people pretending to be a doctor and nurse are actually the Baudelaires, which piques the interest of The Daily Punctilio reporter.

In order to help clarify things, Esme explains that all of her associates are proper medical personnel as they are wearing the correct clothes. Sunny helpfully points out 'Us, too!' This might have been a good argument if Esme didn't then rip their medical masks off, revealling them as two of the Baudelaires.

"They are the Baudelaires!" a nurse exclaimed in astonishment. "I read about them in The Daily Punctilio!"
"Me, too!" cried a doctor.
"It's always a pleasure to hear from our readers," the reporter said modestly.

This prompts someone to ask where the third Baudelaire is. After one of the bad guys attempts to conceal Violet's identity, Klaus points out exactly where she is. His story is soured somewhat by the fact that he is still holding the knife that was going to be used to cut off her head, this just cements the idea that the Baudelaires are in fact murderers. Sunny shouts 'Tweem!' which Klaus translates as 'We're not murderers!'

And then Hal shows up to explain just why the Baudelaires snuck into the hospital. If there was any chance of him helping, I think we can kiss it goodbye. He's discovered that the children switched his keys and he doesn't look very happy about it. He explains that the children pretended to be volunteers to gain access to the Library of Records, then switched his keys so they could destroy their files.

Klaus starts to correct Hal but Hal doesn't let him speak. Instead he drops another bombshell. The Library of Records is on fire!

How will the Baudelaires get out of this one now?