Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

Month: November, 2013

Phwoooooar. Crikey.

I’ve just not long finished reading “Murder and Mendelssohn” by Kerry Greenwood. This is the 20th Phryne Fisher novel – and it’s also the first one I’ve read since the television series started.  Now, I have to say that Essie Davis is exactly right as Miss Fisher in all her fabulous glory; and Dot Williams is how I imagine her – as is Hugh Collins. However, Jack is about ten years younger than I imagined him, and I am 99.9% certain that he not only has a wife, he’s also still quite married to her! Also, one thing I found about returning to Miss Fisher in paperback form was having her surrounded by her entire “family” – Ruth, Jane, Mr Butler (and Mrs Butler), Tinker, the dog, Cec, Bert – I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few – instead of the relatively minimalist family she has on screen.

(Trifle disconcerting as I am watching Miss Fisher as I write about it – meta, or what?)

Anyway, back to the book(s). I’ve been reading the Miss Fisher mysteries since Cocaine Blues. I think there were maybe three or four out when I picked up my first one. I’ve always found them to be a decent variation on the traditional cozy in that there’s normally a little bit of wholesome violence, and a little bit of sex, and the Inspector isn’t a complete dick. I normally read them over a weekend, lolling on the couch with a selection of delectable morsels and a good book that’s not too deep and meaningful. So it was with great anticipation and delight that I sat down with Murder and Mendelssohn. If I could sum up the book in ten words or less…

Man, there was a LOT OF SHAGGING.

Miss Fisher is well known for enjoying the odd roll around in her perfectly made bed, but crikey. I couldn’t tell you much about the mystery because of all the sexuals.  The first lot of murders centred around a choir, with loads of singing and boys. I worked out the how of the second murder (I think there was three? At least two definite deaths and a couple of attempts, anyway) and I was quite pleased with myself for being able to drag myself away from all the pashing and stuff to work out at least some of the crimes that were going on. Oh, and Lin Chun wasn’t there. Miss Fisher has been restricting herself to the delectable Lin Chun for the last couple of books – but he was away on business, so when she bumped into and old friend – woo hoo! (Despite said old friend batting for the opposition, he had a thing for one woman, and that woman would be Phryne.)

There were actually two mysteries going on (see, I told you I got confused. Too much sex leads one astray) with the ‘victims’ of the second mystery being Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman er Rupert Sheffield and Doctor John Wilson being chased by a nameless villain. Some people have found the Sherlock Holmes homage to be outrageous and not to their taste. I have to admit that I found it quite amusing (and srsly, next year, when Sherlock is back on the telly, I shan’t be looking at their relationship from quite the same perspective).

All in all, it was a jolly good romp. There was sufficient biffo, two completely preposterous crimes and way too much sex! Perfect wet weekend read, really. (Normally I’d pass these on to my lovely mum – but crikey!)

 

 

Shopping.

We are in the market for a new car. By new car, I actually mean “new to us” rather than an actual new car with no previous owners. Procuring a real life actual new car would be simple. We’ve pretty much decided what features we want, we know what our particular deal breakers are – so waltzing into the local car dealer and saying “Gimme one of those. In white.” would be so easy, done, dusted and we’d be driving away, no more to pay in our new car.

But both of us are the relatively frugal types who object to handing over several months’ pay for something that will lose half its value in less than three years – neither of us is sure where this frugality in relation to cars comes from, as all of our parents drive spangly new cars that have replaced other spangly new cars, and will undoubtedly be replaced by other spangly new cars, assuming they live long enough to upgrade to another set of spangly new cars. And neither of us is particularly frugal in any other way. However, neither of us can see the point of effectively forking out an extra $20,000 for a smell, when you can buy one of those dangly smell thingies called “new car smell” for about $2. I digress.

Car shopping for us thusly entails trekking about car yards, sniffing about in other people’s prides and joys; and the copious trawling of carsguide, carsales, carpoint, gumtree and the perennial fave – ebay. So far, we’ve had some – shall we say interesting experiences. Now, we are after a seven seat vehicle with stability control, preferably one that doesn’t drive or look like a bus or a truck. Bluetooth and a reversing camera would be nice, and we’d really prefer any colour but black.

Simple, yes?

Ahem. No.

Most of the time, we’d get the hemming and hawing and “does it have to have seven seats?” Polite, albeit not particularly helpful.

After test driving a couple of cars, I decided I needed to try out another sort to help me make a decision so we pulled up at a likely looking car yard and wandered into the yard. After several unhelpful but polite discussions with a vast number of salesmen, I was not prepared for what happened next!

A stand-up argument ensued – with a used car salesman telling me in no uncertain terms that I didn’t NEED stability control on my vehicle of choice; it was a complete waste of money and it did absolutely nothing. He’d done all the crash test courses so he knew it was a joke. And there was NO CHANCE AT ALL that I would be able to get the car that I wanted for the money I had to spend. The expectations of some people.

Let’s back track a little. This is a used car salesman ARGUING with a potential customer and telling the customer that she doesn’t know what she wants. A stereotypical used car salesman, complete with blue tooth ear piece (and they *always* remind me of that episode of Doctor Who where everyone gets upgraded to be Cybermen), he was a red faced, overweight middle aged man.

And me? I was the Customer. Cold hard cashola in her hot little hand. Wanting to buy a car.

It’s all garbage, the government is ripping you off. That ad where the guy goes “pick that car that car that car don’t pick that car”? Well, he got PAID to appear in that ad.

Crikey. Who’d have thought it? Actors get paid to do commercials? Who. Would. Have. Thought? They’re not real people so they’re not telling the truth? You’ll be telling me that Omo won’t get my clothes whiter than white next. And that man in the toothbrush ad isn’t really a dentist.

So, I was supposed to be impressed by this, and bow to his superior manly knowledge (and walk out of there with the keys to a ten year old Hyundai Excel, one lady owner, only driven to church on Sundays). This was also the kind of chap who insisted that because he’d done several driving courses, he would be just as safe driving a car with no seat belt. Quite frankly, I would have liked to see that. Particularly the moment where he lost control of his car (because you don’t need stability control); and catapulted through the windscreen (because seat belts have nothing to do with counteracting the effect of physics on a moving body).

Instead, he insulted my intelligence; I insisted I was correct, he insisted I knew nothing. I did refrain from calling him a complete fuckwit to his face, but according to the Husband, the subtext was more than clear. After my exit, stage left, the man tried some more bluster with the Husband, only to be told we wants what we want. If we didn’t know what we wanted, he’d have more chance of selling us that Hyundai.

And we also know exactly where we will not be buying a car.

Pah. A pox on every one of his 35 alleged car yards.

Of course, this is only to be expected when one sets out to look at a car without sufficient caffeine in one’s system.

A second foray into the used car dealerships in a slightly bigger town (and slightly more caffeinated) lead us to being met with considerably less derision and much more of the “what was it that you wanted? Anything you don’t want? Let’s see what we can find…” and a lot less of “the little lady doesn’t know what she’s talking about” (at least to my face, anyway).

Yes, the customer is in fact always right. And we almost walked away with a car that met almost all of our specifications, too… It was already a bit over budget (we are frugal), and we weren’t prepared to raid the kiddies money boxes for that last few hundred dollars; and no way could the salesman move on that price…

Guess who called us today?

Still out of our league, and hey, the kilometres were a bit high for a three year old car.

Ripping yarns

I’ve been a fan of Val McDermid for a really long time (in fact, in one of her Kate Brannigan books she described my personal ideal domestic set-up – two houses, side by side, linked by a conservatory they both had access to. Separate but together). I read most of the Lindsay Gordon series, and all the Kate Brannigan ones. But Mermaids Singing was something special.

It was truly and amazingly horrible.

It was brutal, it was detailed, it was gripping and nightmare inducing. And it introduced the (more than a little bit squicked out to be honest) Gentle Reader to DCI Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, a profiler, who may or may not be as nutty as some of the people he profiles. I’ve just finished reading Cross and Burn – which is book eight in a series that mostly concentrates on some fairly gruesome crimes in and around Bradfield in the UK, but in the background twists and turns and dances and sidesteps the relationship between Carol and Tony. And if you’ve read the first seven, you’ll understand why Carol and Tony weren’t talking to each other.

It was a cracking read though. I started it one night during the week, and by yesterday morning, all I wanted to do was ignore the housework and settle down on the couch with my book thanks very much. Ok, there were some major leaps and bounds throughout the book that were best described as far fetched. But it still galloped along at a cracking pace. I did work out who it was what done it, and I was really only a step ahead of the police working it out as well. But there were enough red herrings and comeuppances and satisfactory bollockings to make this a bloody good read. And yeah, if you’ve not already read the series, do yourself a favour and get your paws on it. It’s perfect winter reading (and despite the calendar stating quite firmly we’re well into Spring – yesterday was Winter). My children had to wait for their dinner, and once I fed them, everything else had to wait until I finished. I liked it quite a lot.

Now, there may be some spoilers in the next bit, but I shall do my best to be as vague and incoherent as possible without spoiling the story while still making my point…

I like strong female characters in my crime and death. I don’t like wussy little princesses that mince about doing nothing much and expecting some manly man to sweep in at the last minute and save the day. That type of person annoys the absolute bejeezus out of me (that sort of person annoys me in real life as well. Bloody fluffy bunnies.) Nancy Drew gave me the complete shits when I was a teenager. Carol Jordan is indeed a strong woman – she has her weaknesses, and is a bit fond of a cool drink or two. But she’s definitely a strong female character. Which I like. However, I dislike it when characters such as Carol forget where they are and what they’re doing and get themselves into situations that are REALLY STUPID. Fortuitously, although Carol did in fact get herself into a pickle, she was wise enough to acknowledge to herself that she’d stuffed up. And while some blokes did in fact come to the rescue, it was another lady who ultimately saved the day. So she’s forgiven this time, and as long as she remembers to let someone know what she’s up to in future, I’ll be down with that.