Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Who IS and WHO SHOULD BE Dr Kay Scarpetta? Open Letter to Columbia Pictures

  For those of you not familiar with this wonderful literary figure, Dr Scarpetta is a forensic pathologist, psychologist and lawyer (I might, ahem, have both a Psych degree and be a qualified lawyer in some small way as homage to her greatness), please let me further enlighten you.

  Dr Kay Scarpetta, probably late 40's if not older, Italian American crime solving genius, amazing cook, stroppy paranoid blonde and aunt to the definition of the modern 'Alpha Female' Lucy Farinelli, is the creation of Patricia Cornwell in 16 crime novels. I've read almost all of them. She's mostly based in Richmond, Virginia and is ably assisted by balding, semi-obese but incredibly loyal lovesick Officer Marino and has an on-off love affair with the mysterious Benton Wesley. These are characters that jump right off the page into your imagination. I care for them a great deal, so you can imagine my chagrin when I read the following (and other) news stories on the casting of Angelina Jolie as Scarpetta in the forthcoming feature film.

  Why this is so wrong? here are just a few of my thoughts:

  1. Angelina isn't Scarpetta. Dr Kay Scarpetta is an ice cool short-haired blonde with an Italian American no-nonsense attitude (much like Cornwell herself, I reckon). She is also much older than Angelina and nowhere near as overtly sexual, both factors which are imperative in evidencing her honed pathology and legal skills. This is a figure who has helped to stop many a serial-killer in their tracks through her quick-witted thinking and an understanding of the criminal mind. Jolie wasn't bad in the Bone Collector granted, but if said serial killer runs up to your home and you defend yourself by having violently your arm shattered, you need to look less like a girl who hasn't had a good meal in the last year. I have seen Changeling and A Mighty heart, I don't doubt that Angelina can act, but she needs to act her age first.

  2. Scarpetta is a role model. This is a role made for an older female actress. Meryl Streep is playing the love interest at 60 so she told Vanity Fair, Kathryn Bigelow could soon be the first female to win the Oscar for Best Director yet this is a step backwards for feminist casting. What will this tell school girls, that you can't fight crime over 40? How about Diane Lane? Joan Allen? Even Sharon Stone could carry this role off with greater panache and gravitas as is required. Of course Helen Mirren or Meryl herself would do the role justice. But you need to take it seriously and be taken seriously.

  3. Scarpetta is not Bourne, nor is she Harry Potter. There are 16 books in the series and I am willing to bet that there will not be 16 films. Its all fine and well getting the funds together to purchase a franchise, after all the movie business needs to make money, and nothing sells like sequel after sequel, but I do worry that the Columbia execs have become completely blindsighted by this. Turning this into a turgid Wanted rip-off is not only a waste of money but it will also denigrate the name of a critically and commercially popular literary series.

  4. Benton Wesley. My body fairly shivers at who they may deem to cast as Scarpetta's love interest. On the page you see Grissom from CSI meets the beautiful but angry Mark Harmon. This is not a role suitable for the gorgeous but YOUNG James Macavoy. For goodness sake Columbia, send some flowers to George Clooney now, you know it makes sense.

  To Columbia I would conclude: Fire Jolie, hire Bigelow, Ang Lee, Mendes or Eastwood if you have to (although I'd even be partial to a Tarantino version - without all the violence), have an open audition for actresses aged over 45 and cast Alec Baldwin as Marino and Kristen Stewart at Lucy.

  And if all else fails, just take a look at Patricia Cornwell below, see any resemblance Hollywood.......?

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Friday, 15 January 2010

The Man Diet - Self review

  I am not sure where the phrase came from, I blatantly have stolen it from some other woman who reads 'He's Just Not That Into You' once a month, but with the new decade has come a new approach to my relationships.

  Two people (a guy and a girl) who are both very important to me, separately suggested that I might be becoming a little obsessed with the finding a mate. I now concur that they were right. I am in my early thirties, I had exited from yet another failed long-term relationship. Couple this with being at a crossroads where society's preconceived views silently slip into your consciousness and you start asking yourself: why, just why am I not married, with three nippers, living in a nice little house in the country and giving up my youthful life as I know it? I don't want these things as of yet, but I used to want to want them - I thought they were the universal barometer for earthly happiness and success.

  I am nowhere near this stage, I have spent the last ten years asking myself if I like my career, did I actually want to be with any of my ex-boyfriends? should I live in this city? What exactly IS the meaning of life? How much can I blame my parents, friends, exes (anyone else but me) for? And what happens when we all shortly become vampires?! On and on the questions go around my head with no let-up.

  I was spiritually holding my breath, thinking that if the perfect other half comes along and 'completes' me then suddenly the answer to all of these questions would become sparkingly clear (except maybe the vampire question, I shall be pondering that for some time...).

  Then it struck me over Christmas, when I spent a lot of time with me, myself and I. I am a whole person, I don't develop a whole new personality and sense of well-being because I am with soemone else. In fact most of the time I become depleted, less of myself and more of my misconceived notion of what Mr A N Other wants me to be. I may miss physical touching and companionship, but I don't miss picking fights and trying to calm a 'grass is always greener' inner monster whispering in my ear. Ultimately only I can fight my demons and generate more fixed rather than transient happiness throughout this life.

  So here it is: no dating, no drunken snogging, no waking up in the morning and thinking WTF, no waiting by the phone (or nowadays the computer), and no feeling let down by someone who could never have fixed my inner leaky tap no matter what they said or did. 

  Also, for clarification purposes: I don't dislike men, I dislike myself as a girlfriend, lover, whatever.

  I will let you know how it goes. Existing side effects are thinking that Taylor Swift song lyrics are a direct call to arms, an ever-increasing addiction to cheesey rom-coms and a desperation to buy a kitten. But I haven't felt any stress in weeks. I quite like myself it seems.

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Monday, 4 January 2010

Dear Future Me...

Dear Future Me (let's say in 2020).

  Well, you'll be 41 but you'll probably still feel 20, like I have always done (even when I was 6).

  I hope that you will have learned that years of sweating over the small stuff was a terribly pointless exercise and I expect you'll be much more chilled. You'll have finally cottoned on to what is important in life. Even though you'll know that personal happiness does not come solely from your loved ones, you'll probably be married with a child or two, living the traditional 20th Century dream, but being grateful for what you have, in 21st Century fashion. But if you're not with The One(R), I feel that you will still be happy, because you will have sorted out what work and love mean to you.

  You'll be finally settled in yourself but you'll be raring to go, with lots of different projects and an ongoing sense of optimism. You'll still be using your creativity.

  You won't regret the past and you'll be reconciled with those you had previously tussled with. You'll do the forgetting, as well as the forgiving. You'll hopefully be less focussed on yourself and you will find you can truly marvel at the beauty of a rainbow inside a raindrop.

  I am looking forward to being you. Enjoy!

  Lots of love

  Sarah Lou 2010

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Saturday, 7 November 2009

That's funny...

In light of the attack on Jimmy Carr for his apparently thoughtless joke regarding war veteran amputees, I wanted to say something about his (mis)treatment. I adore the media, whether it is the broadsheets or the red tops, Newsnight or Heat magazine. In fact, I think that in order to offer an opinion on the news today, it is very important to ascertain the widely different way that the same events can be reported. But what I detest is the hounding of individuals by a newspaper columnist or two under a misrepresentative umbrella of expousing the opinions of the moral majority. I have watched Jimmy Carr many a time. His brand of humour isn't particularly irreverent, its punchy and brutal, but his jokes are over in a flash. It is deliberately designed to give you an initital verbal winding but ending with guffaws of laughter at his witty cheek. But more importantly, Jimmy can approach serious issues in today's society and give his opinion to the masses in a palatable medium. His joke was not designed to offend the amputees but to topically commiserate with them through humour. If these kinds of quick-fire jokes were the stuff that would have broken his career, we would never have heard of him. I wholeheartedly support his approach.

That brings me to Frankie Boyle, a comedian of similar ilk who spends his entire time on stage or television thinking of how offensive he can be. I'm sure Boyle acknowledges an audience gasp as being on equal par with roaring laughter and applause. His comments regarding UK swimmer Rebecca Adlington were not very nice, but were they truly cruel? Probably not, its his shtick, but it was the media that drew unnecessary attention to the quote, not Frankie. Don't get me wrong, if I was Adlington I would have been mortified and good on her agent for making a point, but the real issue here is why do the media focus on the humour which is so inflammatory? Because we like it! Because it makes a good story! But don't think its because they care about reproaching Boyle. The running of stories regarding poor-taste jokes merely serves to further endorse the joke. I do not endorse Frankie's joke but I would rather have his humour than the condescending dissection of it offered up by others.

Some sections of society will be offended by risque jokes and other sections will misuse the humour for cruel and stupid reasons.  But the right or wrongness of freedom of speech should be determined by society as a whole, society made up of millions of people with differing opinions of what they find funny. Not just a few of us. You decide....

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Sunday, 6 September 2009


Just a quickie. I really want to share my fascination with a certain word gaming website. I absolutely love, but then I'm a little bit obsessed with quizzes; and you might be too, given the world's current obsession with list making.

If you want to know the name of every inaugurated American President, guess each studio album put out by Bob Dylan or you just really have to name all the world's capital cities in under fifteen minutes, then is the website for you.

The only problem is, with all this new found useless knowledge, is something else being displaced? I'll let you know if I ever remember what I may have forgotten, but in the meantime, it cheers me to know that I'm fully prepared to name every single novel written by George Orwell. You never know when such information might come in handy...!

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Tuesday, 18 August 2009


  Now finally I have a subject that I am really one of the top experts on! And that is.......(drum roll) student debt!

  I don't think that I am about to win Matsremind with my specialised subject but I am very interested in the current media speculation (especially in the UK) on the cost of university tuition. It has now been calculated that the average student will have created £23,500 worth of debt by the time they leave univesity. I am telling you now that my first response to this was "...and the rest".

  I went to uni in 1997 and students attending in that year were some of the last ones to benefit from a full student grant. I was given around £2000 a year which sounds like quite a lot of money. I went to a good university but not a top-notch one. Living was still expensive, socialising weas expensive and my uni was full of the type of students who had middle class well-off parents who paid for their education. I was from a single parent family, but I still had some family financial help. But I also had been sheltered from debt up until the age of 18. I had worked before uni, at a pitifully paid soul-destroying job but I still didn't really have much in the way of savings. I didn't have to pay fees, but I was absolutely flabberghasted at the amount of seemingly free money I could be given. A student account (with large overdraft) here, a credit card there and the debt piled up. I just was not physiclaly capable of managing it. I saw that everyone else was living a pretty good life and I wanted the same. I took the full student loan allowance and everything else that was thrown at me. I worked during the holidays but that basically paid for a few dresses and two weeks in Spain. I was continually informed that I didn't have to pay anything back whilst I was a student, and my metamorphisis into a student ostrich was complete.

  I was lucky, I came out with a very good degree. But then I decided I couldn't face work and took on two more years of study, as many friends were also doing that. And that was the worst thing I could ever have done for myself financially. I doubled my debt in an instant. I lived in more expensive digs in London. I couldn't work in the holidays or part time because postgraduate courses are generally much longer with longer hours than undergraduate degrees. I found a sponsor and was even granted a bursary, but I spent it on travel, coffee, dinner and books and generally trying to live a life I was not contributing to. Why did I deserve to not work for 5 years? Well my justification was simple. My work was my study and I worked hard. But study per se does not bring in the bacon.

  Its only when I actually started work in 2002 that I started earning a salary. And then I had to total up my debt. It was around £40,000. My first salary that year was significantly lower than that. And the debt kept coming. Credit card deals would run out, loans with longer terms were taken out and the debt spiralled. It was all encompassing, and sometimes I still wonder if I actually went into a high paying job because I wanted to do it, or because I needed to do it in order to repay the debt. My Herculean task is not over. I still have thouisands left to pay, and I have been diligently paying the debt now for seven years. But I am no longer in the grip of a money-related depression.

  So what is the moral of my story? Easy. It is as follows:

  1) Can you afford university? You dont have to go away from home or for a long time in order to educate yourself. The pressures are myriad and although I had a wonderful time, it wasn't the be all and end all of my life. It is better to be happy and fulfilled in a career. Vocational courses are not frowned upon like they used to be and neither is good honest work.
2) You must learn to budget and be patient. I had none of these skills. if you aren't well off, be prepared to be envious of others activities. You can't do everything if you aren't earning anything. A small amount of debt is fine (and now seemingly customary) but remember you may not secure the job you desire, or the salary you want immediately on receiving your degree.
3) be prepared to be in it for the long haul. It will colour your decisions when your uni days are only a glimmer in your memory.

  I'm not saying people shouldn't go to uni - it is an amazing for life and educational experience. But if you don't budget for it, you'll pay for your fun again and again and again.

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Friday, 10 July 2009

Blur - Out of Retirement and as if they never left....


With threatening skies overhead, I became increasingly worried about my first foray into Hyde Park gigging. I’ve loved the Essex foursome Blur since my teens and thought jumping around in the sun at their last reunion gig would be perfect, if the weather held! After seeing the coverage of this year’s Glastonbury, it was obvious that a break of four years had only done the band immense good.


I arrived at the park to see the magnificent Florence and the Machine strut their stuff. Florence’s ethereal, powerful voice carried over the already heaving crowd and during the beautiful ‘Dog Days are Over’ as the sun finally burned the clouds away. There was an ever-present festival feel, not bad for the centre of London. I knew nothing of the next support act Amadou&Mariam but their laid back Malian vibe, already a big hit with Mr Albarn, was a quirky change of direction. An hour later Vampire Weekend came on and definitely upped the ante, especially when they rocked their hit ‘A Punk’.


The event had been better organised than I had expected, with polite queuing for the drinks tents and less polite queuing for the not too shabby toilet facilities.


When Blur came on with She’s So High everyone went crazy. They blasted a nice mix of high profile tracks (Coffee & TV, Beetlebum, Girls and Boys) mingled with stuff for the fans (Trimm Trabb, Badhead, Oily Water) cleverly picking from their vast back catalogue, alternating between sunny pop melodies and surly ballads.

There wasn’t any mention of Alex James’ cheesemaking, but he was as cool as ever, and we even got Phil Daniels on a very fast-paced Parklife. The band seemed in sync, and they gave it their all on the blisteringly hot night. Stew Dean (no relation!) has some natty photos posted here .


Alas the performance wasn’t without incident. Although Blur behaved impeccably, I can’t say the same for the over-enthusiastic Friday night fans. More than once Damon, clad in his usual Fred Perry polo, had to use his megaphone to tell everyone to calm down. Myriad plastic bottles were chucked from the back and after making a dash for the front towards the end, I had to turn back when the aggressive throng became too much. It was as if Blur’s music was a siren’s call of regression back to stupid youthful behaviour. Well, we were all drinking cider in a park! 

The band gave not one but two encores. The first featuring Song 2 cleverly referencing Dave Rowntree’s burgeoning political career as the screens lit up ‘VOTE DAVE’. The second gave us For Tomorrow and finished on crowd-pleasing The Universal. With the pack gently swaying in unison we all sang “It really really could happen” and we all knew that it really really had. The essence of Blur in 25 stunning songs. Unforgettable.


You can buy a live album of the 3 July gig for £15 from: .

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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