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British superheroes vs American superheroes (fictional)

Who doesn’t love a superhero story! The super big action, the super big adventure, the super mega big explosions. Ever notice how superhero stories almost always happen in America, and most superheroes are American. Maybe because America is a super big. I must admit I’ve never noticed, I’m too busy enjoying the super big explosions. My friend Richard pointed out the lack of British superheroes and British settings so with that in mind I’ve put together a selection of British vs American super skilled and super powered characters.

Alien hero – 
The Doctor vs Thor

These two spacemen have adopted Earth as their second home and spend most of their time defending us Earthlings from Alien invasions.

Practically immortal the Doctor has rejuvenated 11 times and is a seriously complex character. Armed with a sonic screwdriver and several lifetimes of experience he’s a handy guy to have around in a crisis.  Just don’t expect to live through it. He’s great at saving humanity but has a bit of trouble when it comes to individuals.

Thor is the Asgardian god of thunder and possesses the enchanted hammer Mjolnir. He can save everyone but will destroy most of New York in the process. Possibly immortal he not only battles aliens but gods, demons and ancient mythical creatures.

Favourite – Personally I prefer the Doctor, I may not survive but at least he will let me get in on the action.

In a fight – These two would battle each other till the end of eternity, occasionally joining forces to stop a super alien villian.

Superspy -James Bond vs Jason Bourne

Super suave and super skilled, these two bad boys are dangerous to be around, especially if you are female!

James Bond, licence to kill, everything he does is for Queen and Country. He has an arsenal of super spy gadgets to save the Commonwealth, and occasionally America. Favourite weapon – Walther PPK, favourite car- Aston Martin, favourite drink – Martini shaken not stirred. This super suave spy lacks one thing, a conscious.

Jason Bourne doesn’t have a super spy car, a super spy weapon, a super spy job or even his memory! He does have a serious set of super skills. He doesn’t need a gun or even a knife, he can kill you with a tea towel. He has got a few psychological issues like a super severe conscious, not an ideal trait for a professional super assassin spy.

Favourite -This is a tough one. How can a girl choose? Either way I will probably end up dead!

In a fight – Jason would beat James after a long hard fight, but he would feel really bad about it afterwards.

Feral hero -Tarzan vs Wolverine

Wild, ferocious, barely civilised, these two untameable fighters are a force to be reckoned with.

Tarzan was created by an American writer, he was born and raised in Africa, and French is the first language he learned to speak, but he is an English Lord so I’ve put him on team Britain. His keen senses and formidable physique have been perfectly adapted to life in a hostile African jungle. He can snap the neck of a bull ape as easily as a twig. Add his ability to talk to animals and a black cruel humour, the local natives fear him believing he is a jungle demon or god. No human could survive alone in the darkest depths of Africa.

James Logan aka Wolverine is a mutant with the ability to regenerate giving him extended longevity. Armed with super human senses, super agility, and a super grumpy personality his retractable claws and entire skeleton was plated with adamantium by a secret goverment agency turning him into Weapon X. He’s the best there is at what he does, but what he does best isn’t very nice.

Favourite – Another tough one. I love them both.

In a fight – Wolverine would win, but only because of his regenerative powers.

Armoured hero – Lancelot vs Iron Man

The old school and the next generation knight in shining armour. These two have more in common then you’d think.

Tony Stark is Iron Man. Take away the suit and what is he. Genius, playboy, billionaire, philanthropist. 

Sir Lancelot, knight of camelot, heir to the fairy kingdom ruled by the Lady of the Lake, champion of the sword and lance, lover of Queen Guinevere (among others). Take away the armour and what is he? Genius, playboy, billionaire, philanthropist. 

Favourite – Personally I’ve never liked Lancelot and I’m not to keen on Iron Man either. 

In a fight – No contest, Iron Man will turn Lancelot into a tin of soup. 

Vigilante hero – Robin Hood vs Batman

When the system fails, when injustice rules supreme, a hero will step forward and take matters into his own hands, righting wrongs and fighting for the good of the people.

Bruce Wayne aka Batman, traumatized by the death of his parents he fights the crime lords ruling Gotham City. Aided by his trusted butler Alfred and an inexhaustible amount of money to build a batcave and lots of high tech equipment, he strikes fears into ordinary criminals. (Cue cool super villians). But no matter how many criminals he defeats he still finds no peace.

Robin Hood, expert bowman, master of disguise, rebel, and thief. He battled the most despicable organisation of all time, the Tax Man. Robbing from the rich and giving to the poor with his merry band of men, life in Sherwood Forest is one long party. Enter the dastardly villainous Sheriff of Nottingham.

Favourite – Robin Hood. I love archery, I love forests, I hate paying tax. I would love to be one of his merry men.

 In a fight – I don’t think these two would ever find a reason to fight each other. 

Super Intellect Hero – Sherlock Holmes vs Professer X

With brains the size of a small planet no one can match these super masterminds.

Professor Charles Xavier, the worlds most powerful psychic mutant. He can read your deepest thoughts, manipulate your memories and control your mind. But he only uses his powers for good and to promote peace.

Sherlock Holmes, super slueth and the worlds greatest consulting detective. His powers of deduction are superior in everyway. He doesn’t need psychic powers to manipulate your brain, he uses psychology and your own weaknesses against you.

 Favourite – Sherlock Holmes. According to his philosophy anyone can learn how to harness and use their powers of deductive reasoning.

In a fight – This will be a battle of the mind. A game of chess ending in stalemate. 

Super female hero – Lara Croft vs Wonder Woman.

Every now and then someone realises the lack of leading female characters and creates a super woman. Sometimes they don’t get it quite right. 

Wonder Woman, the Amazonian princess who leaves Paradise Island to save humanity from themselves. Armed with a variety of mystical weapons like the Lasso of Truth, Indestructible Bracelets and a telepathic Tiara she kicks butt and looks great doing it. Super athletic, super strong, and super smart Wonder Woman was the first comic book female superhero. My only problem is her costume, its strapless. That bodice would have to be strapped around her so tight to stay up she wouldn’t be able to breathe let alone fight!

 (I was struggling to find a British counterpart, thanks to my nephew for suggesting Lara.)

Lara Croft has been reinvented a few times during her comparatively short existence. Created for a video game she is a beautiful, intelligent, and athletic archaeologist adventurer. Her backstory has changed a few times but she is generally held to be a member of the British aristocracy. In the first game version her boobs were impossibly big but she was wearing appropriate clothes for digging around in dusty old tombs and fighting whatever supernatural disaster she unleashed. The latest edition of the Tomb Raider games see Lara Croft with more realistic dimensions. Her favourite choice of weapon is two pistols. She did pinch Thors hammer once too.

Favourite – I’ve never played any Tomb Raider games or seen the films. I watched a 1980s Wonder Woman film and wasn’t impressed. After reading up some more about the creative process behind these two super women I have altered my opinion slightly but I still don’t know either well enough to choose a favourite. 

In a fight – This would be one hell of a cat fight. Lara would start it, Wonder Woman would finish it, and an uneasy truce would follow.

Which are your favourites and who do you think would win head to head.

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More Tea Vicar?

I’ve noticed a disturbing fact about the complimentary tea making facilities in hotels in Britain. The cheaper the room the more tea bags they give you. 

When I say cheap I don’t mean the grotty sort with peeling paper, creaking beds and suspicious hotel clerks ( not that I’ve stayed in the sort so I’m not sure what the tea making facilities are like). I mean budget hotels like Premier inn as opposed to higher end like the Marriott. I am currently sipping Earl Grey tea while in bed staying at the Hyatt London. I’m drinking Earl Grey because there is no Breakfast tea left and no milk.

Personally I expect to find in my complimentary drink facilities as standard a cup for every person staying in the room, two English breakfast teabags per person, two coffee sachets per person, a small selection of herbal/other teas/decaf, sufficent milk. On occasions my expections have been surpassed and there has been double this amount plus biccies. I usually find this happens in individually run establishments. My room at the Hyatt has been booked for three people, there are only two cups, three breakfast tea, one Earl grey, two coffee sachets, 4 milk. I went to the desk and they happily gave me more but you would think tea was on rations as I only recieved an extra two English Breakfast and two Earl Grey. I stayed at a Premier inn recently and when I ask for more tea and milk the receptionist gave me a bag full.

So what conclusions can I draw from this. Do the well off drink less tea and more alcohol perhaps? Is it the type of staff they employ, although I’ve never noticed a difference, they are all friendly and professional. Maybe the higher end hotels have blown all their budgets on fancy toiletries and artful decor. Maybe they can’t afford to buy tea, poor souls. 

Either way I must satisfy myself with Earl Grey as I can’t be bothered to slink down to the desk in my pjs and ask for more and I haven’t the patience to wait for housekeeping to fetch me some.

P.S. The most unusual complimentary beverage I have ever found in a hotel was a decanter of fine cream sherry in a independent hotel in Eire. 

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Goodbye 2016

Its been a strange year with lots of highs and lows both globally and on a personal level. It certainly hasn’t gone to plan! 

I’m not going to berate myself for my failures or congratulate myself on my successes, what’s past is past. Instead I will reflect on what 2016 has taught me and the lessons I will take with me into 2017.

1. My parents are the most important people in the world to me. The rest of my family come a close second.

2. I’m  proud of my roots and my heritage.

3. Take chances when I want to not when other people tell me to. Ultimately it’s my life not theirs.

4. I can’t do everything so I should stop trying.

5. Sleep is important. So are coffee breaks

6. Just because someone else isn’t doing the job as quickly or as perfectly as I can doesn’t give me the right to take over!

7. Keep in touch with friends.

8. Always send out Christmas cards, even if it’s just to let people know you’re still alive.

9. Memories are more important then money. 

10. I live beyond my means and I cannot live within them so I should stop worrying about it.

11. A dining table is the most civilised item a person can own.

12. Alcohol is my enemy, green tea is my friend. (Beginnings of rheumatoid arthritis)

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Shakespeare Lives

Its 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the worlds greatest bard. Does he need an introduction? No. Too celebrate his literary legacy I have picked some of my favourite Shakespeare moments.

1967 film Taming of the Shrew with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

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It was the first screen adaptation of Shakespeare I watched other then those inflicted on me at school. My English teacher taught me to understand Shakespeare but Elizabeth and Richard let me appreciate his genius.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

My first introduction to Shakespeare. It was long, it was tedious and I couldn’t understand a word. Morning break couldn’t come soon enough. I’m listening to an audio version of Macbeth again for the first time and I realise it wasn’t the plays fault. It was my tedious English teacher and her long explanations.

Theatrical dress worn by Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth

I love this dress and hopefully will see it one day. It was designed by Alice Comyns-Carr and made in crochet by Ada Nettleship using a soft green wool and blue tinsel yarn from Bohemia to create an effect similar to chain mail. It was embroidered with gold and decorated with 1,000 iridescent wings from the green jewel beetle, Sternocera aequisignata. The dress was restored in a two-year project that began in 2009 when £50,000 had been raised to pay for the work. In 2011, after 1,300 hours of conservation work and a cost of £110,000, it was placed on display in Ellen Terry’s home, Smallhythe Place, near Tenterden in Kent.

Ten Things I Hate about You 1999 film

Modern adaptation of Taming of the Shrew with Heath Ledger and Julia Styles. Favourite part; when Heath Ledger sings ‘you’re just too good to be true’, Daryl Mitchell quoting/rapping a Shakespeare sonnet.

Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet 1996 film

Brilliant modern version brings Shakespeare up to date. Guns replace swords, the violence surrounding the doomed lovers is ever present and it has an epic music score. Favourite song is ‘I’m kissing you’ by Des’ree.

Shakespeare’s Animated Tales

These short animations are definitely not Disney. Beautiful compiled, artfully created, these bite size chunks of Shakespeare’s best plays use cel animation, paint on glass and stop motion puppet animation. Sometimes funny, sometimes brutal, sometimes gory, but always Shakespeare. 

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Travellers’ Times Online – Are you listening Mr Cameron? We are the Gypsies

This article struck a chord with me and rings so true. It is so much easier when dealing with other communities to hide my gypsy origins then deal with the inevitable racism. But hiding never solves the problem. If we are to fight racism we must fight for our rights as a race, which includes being recognised as a Gypsy/Traveller even if we don’t travel! It’s hard for race of people to recognise its racial identity when its constantly being stamped on, ridiculed and subjected to harsh criticism.

http://travellerstimes.org.uk/Blogs–Features/Are-you-Listening-Mr-Cameron.aspx

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My Favourite Christmas Songs

Many of my memories are made during the holiday seasons, the happy and the sad. Perhaps because I spend more time with my family, and notice those who are no longer with us at these festivities. A song can bring these memories vividly to life, whether its a slow smooth beat evoking the lazy summer holidays or a creepy tune bringing out the ghoulish ghosts at Halloween. With this in mind here is a selection of my favourite festive Yuletide songs which conjure the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

White Christmas – Bing Crosby
The ultimate Christmas song and it can only be sung by Bing Crosby. The first two lines of the lyrics conjures up every good memory of every snow covered Christmas gone by.

Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea
This song brings back a lot of memories. On Christmas Eve in my younger and wilder days, my sister and I would go partying with our friends, wish everyone a Merry Christmas at midnight then set off home. Guaranteed this song would be playing on every radio station. When we got home my Mum and Gran would be waiting with a freshly roasted ham (part of the Christmas Days feast). We would have sandwiches, sherry, mince pies and one present to open. My Gran is sadly no longer with us, I don’t keep in touch with my old friends as much as I should, and my clubbing days are over. Whenever I hear this song now it makes me cry.

Merry Christmas Everyone – Shaken’ Stevens
Its fun, its corny and they played it at every children’s party I went to. And at the ones I still go to.

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues & Kirsty McColl
One of my all time favourites. Past, present and future. Full of laughter, tears and hope.

The Nutcracker Suite – Tchaikovsky
This has been one if my favourite classical pieces for many years. There is one part which sounds almost mechanical, I can imagine all the toys under the tree coming to life and moving in time.

Baby’s its Cold Outside – Tom Jones & Cerys Matthew
I’ve heard many versions if this duet, my second favourite is by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Although someone recently suggested the song is about date rape which has marred my enjoyment of it.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas – Christmas Carollers
Christmas isn’t Christmas without carollers and this is my favourite carol. Lately carolling has gone out of fashion except in church. I hope it becomes popular again soon and I can listen to carollers wishing me a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year while I’m browsing the shops for gifts.

Silent Night – Christmas Carollers
Another favourite carol of mine. Christmas isn’t just about presents, or snow, or family getting together. Its about Jesus and the love, joy, hope and peace he brings us now and for the future. God bless us everyone.

Merry Christmas x

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Loyalty Crisis

How do you review a novel or piece of work written by someone you know?  On one hand you want to be honest for the sake of the reading public, on the other hand you don’t want to offend the writer and possibly harm their review ratings. If you enjoy the novel then all’s well. But what if you didn’t.

I’ve been put in this position a few times and have so far managed to avoid giving a definite review. The problem is I think I’m a born evil critic. If something doesn’t hit the right chord with me I will pull it to pieces looking for all its tiniest faults. My solution to my major personality flaw is to avoid things I don’t like or keep my mouth shut.

I’ve broken both those rules today and reviewed a book I didn’t like written by someone I know. I gave it a more generous rating then I would have as I know how much hard work went into it but I couldn’t in all honesty give it a 5 star review. I’m now suffering from post review guilt. Reviewing a book written by a stranger is easy, you will never see their distressed face.

If anything the experience has taught me to be more thoughtful when I review a book, slap the evil critic in me and remind her that people have feelings. Better yet, only review books written by dead writers.

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Issue 5

Bibliophilia Magazine

Our ‘Spring’ themed March issue is now available to read and download.

We hope you enjoy it, and submission are open again for our next issue which be along the theme of ‘guilty pleasures’.

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Portobello Road and Julies Bar

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London is perhaps one of the most diverse and entertaining cities in the world. Besides being famous for its palaces, museums, parks and shopping areas it also has many street markets, Portobello Road being one of the newer ones. Originally a Victorian street, lined with shops and market stalls selling fresh produce and everyday items to the residents of Paddington and Notting Hill, the Victorian buildings have been colourfully painted adding to the streets bohemian lifestyle.

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By the end of the WW2 Rag and Bone men were selling secondhand goods from makeshift stalls. The result today is a varied mix of bric-a-brac and antiques, vintage styles and new clothes, fresh food and veg stalls, and pubs and restaurants all jostling for space along this lively road.  I’ve visited Portobello Market many times and I’ve noticed subtle changes. Since 1950 Portobello Road has inspired and featured in films, songs and literature, the dynamic cosmopolitan vibe of this street appeals to artists of every kind. And after the 1999 film Notting Hill it became a must see destination. Since then Portobello Road seems to be full of tourists and I think has lost a little of its charm. Perhaps it’s the incessant clicking of cameras.

Saturday is the day for antiques and bric-a-brac,items vary from old English silver to 1920s cricket bats. All of it is overpriced. Once upon a time one could barter with stall holders and get a bargain, but since its latest rise to fame, dealers have turned their noses up at an honest bid. Times are changing though, maybe its the recession, but once again one can haggle over the price without feeling you have said something rude.

Halfway down the road the antiques shops petter out and make way for new and vintage clothing shops, punctuated by food stands, fruit and veg stalls and the Salvation Army. Something of the old streets charm returns with the smell of Jamaican chicken, Spanish tangerines and Belgian waffles. As the Salvation Army band starts playing, I dive into one of the local shops free of tourists and buy a hat, it’s a woolly hat that’s been blinged and then blinged some more. Some of the shops have closed down, a sign of the times, and some high street shops have moved in. I’m hoping not many more, the beauty of Portobello Road is its individuality.

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I met up with some friends at Portobello Market and one of them suggested a trip to Julies Restaurant, a fifteen minute walk from Portbello Road. Opened in 1969 it is often described as the rock chick of the restaurant world. What that means, I have no idea. What I do know is that the ultra cool London set frequent it and my friend has seen several big stars eating there while she’s been sipping her coffee. I’m not a star spotter, it holds no interest for me, against my better judgement I gave the Jamaican chicken a skip and headed to Julies restaurant. My other experiences of ‘in’ restaurants have never been good, snooty waiters, overpriced overrated food and small portions, so I approached Julies in a very biased frame of mind.

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I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived. Julies is out of the way, tucked into a quiet residential area, it looks inviting. There were a couple of private functions on, I said we only wanted coffee and maybe some food. I wasn’t committing myself to anything. The waiter was very pleasant, no trace of snootiness, and very attentive without grovelling, he showed us to a table in the bar area which he laid with a crisp white cloth in case we decided to have food. The warm smell of mulled wine filled the air so we forgot the coffee and order a glass each, followed by roasted cauliflower soup and lobster bisque. It has always been a habit between me and my sister to order two different dishes and swap halfway through, much to the horror of restaurant staff.

The soup was delicious and plentiful, sweet and creamy and delicately seasoned with herbs. Not so much to drown the taste of the roasted cauliflower but enough to tantalise my taste buds. I wondered which combination of herbs could make me want to stick my face in the bowl and lick it clean. The lobster bisque was also divine. I restrained myself and didn’t lick the bowl. The waiter may have seen dishes flying across the table as we swapped food, but he gave no sign that he had noticed. We followed up with a coffee and the waiter, ever attentive, seemed to magically appear when I turned my head. The price was possibly a bit above average, even for London, around £7 to £8 for the soups, £6.50 for the mulled wine and £2.50 for the coffees as well as a service charge. In this case I think it was worth it, not for the fact that it is the ‘in’ restaurant but because the service and food were that good.

Julies bar is certainly a place you can relax and have a quiet coffee, a remarkable thing in London. The restaurant itself is a mix of private rooms and dining areas decorated in different styles and the staff take this privacy seriously, I can understand why the rich and famous enjoy meals here, they have a private entrance so as to avoid paparazzi. My friend told me to take a look at the decor in the other rooms, it was amazing, but there was a private function on. A waitress very politely but firmly asked if I need any help before I got anywhere near the other dining areas. She pointed out the toilets and made it very clear, in her polite way, that this was as far as I was going. I wandered back to the table in our quirky little bar area, I couldn’t complain, we had the bar to ourselves and our own personal waiter to attend our every need while we gossiped away the afternoon.

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Issue two has arrived

Bibliophilia Magazine

Issue two is out and available to read online and download. It’s Christmassy themed.

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