The World According To Fred is my blog, although no, my name is not Fred - but don't worry, that's a common misconception... My posts are a compilation of all the things that pass through my mind - a running commentary of my view of the world. Please feel free to comment and please say if there are any subjects you would like Fred to take a view on - I really do want to know!!!! In the meanwhile enjoy:
The World According To Fred

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Casual Disappointment

Since the publication of the final Harry Potter book in 2007, I have eagerly awaited the release of a new book from the beloved JK, whatever it may be. And then, earlier this year, came the announcement that she had picked up the quill again: The Casual Vacancy, 27th September 2012. Oh the excitement! The overwhelming joy that accompanied the knowledge that I could once again delve into the world of her writing – I didn’t care that it wasn’t Harry, wasn’t Hogwarts, wasn’t magic. She was back and it was a whole new universe to be swept away in.

Yeah. What an astronomical letdown.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it was a disappointment because it wasn’t Potter – a lot of people think that that’s the reason I feel like this, and it’s a fair enough assumption (except of course, that it’s entirely wrong). No, the truth is that The Casual Vacancy is a racist, demeaning and judgemental piece of crap – and that’s just the half of it. For those that don’t know (and a warning – spoiler alerts coming!) the book follows the town of Pagford and the events that occur after the death of a prominent figure of the town council, Barry Fairbrother (Barry? Inventive there JK…) and the attempts to fill his seat.

Now as a bookseller at Waterstones, I was well aware of the promotional restrictions put around the book; it was in no way to be affiliated with the Harry Potter series, and was to be advertised with extreme emphasis on the fact it was an adult novel. However, what we weren’t warned about was the fact that JK Rowling seems to have a limited knowledge as to what makes an adult novel – and that her version consists of “adult writing” consists of sporadic, frequent and often unnecessary bad language and scenes that, whilst admittedly were – in accordance with most of the rest of the book – badly written, verged on pornographic. OK, so let’s not think I’m a snobbish prude – yes people use bad language and it is generally quite often. But is it really quite necessary for “c**t” to be used within the first ten pages and repeatedly therein? No, is the simple answer. And as for the sex scenes – ok, so it was no Fifty Shades of Grey, but they were thrown in amongst relatively normal passages in a way that was clearly a desperate attempt to up the ante and make it adult material. They were simply uncomfortable to read. Not that I’m suggesting I like to snuggle up with a cup of tea and my latest copy of Fifty Shades for a nice bit of contented and light reading. No. I’m simply saying that JK’s risqué material was less sleazy and more queasy.

And then there’s the writing itself – oh it was painful. Long and archaic terms that, realistically, nobody but an English teacher uses (and even they don’t understand them) and only served to make the piece clumsy and awkward. The story made critical and damning accusations of those on the welfare system and racial slurs with barely acceptable reason behind it reasoning – “bullying”. JK failed to form any likeable character to get behind (by the end I wanted to climb in and slap everyone of them) and I am ashamed to say that it took me about four weeks to finish it; had it not been for my extreme aversion to starting and not finishing a book, I would’ve been perfectly happy to put it down and walk away unconcerned not knowing what happened. As it is, I don’t think I have ever reached the end of a book with as much relief that it was over.

So Ms Rowling – what’s going on? I think it must be one of two options. Firstly, she has realised that Potter can go no further – now that’s hard for me, as a hardcore Potterhead, to even find the words to admit it, but after the painful demise of the over-hyped Pottermore (having spent two hours getting to the sorting and being put in Hufflepuff, I refuse to go back on, and having gathered from my more fortunate friends that really I’m not missing out, it seems that those that remain on the site are dwindling in numbers…) it can be said that Potter can go no more. In coming to terms to this, JK has decided she must break away as far as possible from this world and create a new name for herself: thus the foul language, foul content and foul writing.

The other option is, indeed, far more disturbing: that this is actually what Rowling writes and thinks like, and the entire Harry Potter franchise was a façade behind which she could simply get published. If this is the case, then I have lost a valued idol, who always seemed to promote the good and right in a troubled and often desperate society, and the little girl who can owe her childhood and love for literature to one woman can now only turn her head in shame.

I now return to the Harry Potter series with a desperate hope that this experiment will not impact future generations on their willingness to pick up this magical world, that for me, should’ve been the only one JK Rowling created. Let this be a plea to her to stay far from this new path, and remain with what she knows and is good at.

Twilight: A Bark Bigger Than Its Bite?

I recently went to see Eclipse, the latest film in the Twilight Saga. Having absolutely adored the book and then wound myself into a frenzy over the trailer, I anticipated a great success. Admittedly, the previous two hadn’t been great once I looked closer at them, but Eclipse was supposed to the best yet: it’s the most action packed; two extremely good looking characters (in the book) battling over the girl they both love and Bella’s heart-wrenching decision at the end. What could go wrong? Needless to say, it was crap.

Now, I am well aware that the entire female population of Britain, America and in fact the rest of the world will probably want to hunt me down, tear me apart and burn the pieces  after hearing what I have to say. But to me, Robert Pattinson and his troupe of talentless wannabes are as low down in my book as Justin Bieber, Jedward and that demented woman who put the cat in the bin. C’mon Hollywood. Is it really that hard to cast people that can actually act? Robert Pattinson is supposedly a God, and yet I find myself repulsed by the simple thought of his face, my lip curling at the sound of his hybrid accent in my head. It’s not difficult to cast an American in an American role, and even if they couldn’t achieve that, at least an Englishman who can put on a decent American accent. Where were Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder (aka Stefan Salvatore and Damon Salvatore from the ITV2 series Vampire Diaries) when Twilight was being cast?  Added to this catastrophe, they enrol Kristen Stewart as Bella: a flimsy excuse for an actor, who wouldn’t ever have one boy fighting for her, let alone two. Finally, you have Taylor Lautner - possibly the only peak in this vacuous boredom - with his enticing six-pack which, unfortunately, acts better than he does. The gorgeous Indian-American seems to have an interesting disability, limiting him to only one facial expression throughout the film.
So come on Hollywood. What’s going on? You’ve managed to turn a series of incredible books into a mess of bad acting and people constantly checking the time to see how much longer they have to sit and watch this contraption for. As it is, I now utterly detest the books: my vision of Edward Cullen is destroyed; Bella is no longer my strong feminist heroine and the word ‘vampire’ simply sets my teeth on edge rather than having the pulse racing, wide-eyed, dizzy effect it once did.

And yet somehow, I am alone in a craze of hormone ruled, overly obsessive, stalker mad fans. My traditionalist ideas are being trampled beneath the heavy feet of pathetic, moronic and narcissistic teenage girls, whilst we are watched by laughing producers who have just got the phone call to confirm that yes; they are now the equivalent to Bill Gates in the merchandise industry. Meanwhile, up and down the country, girls – in fact fully grown women who should know better enough to act their age – are flowing into shops to seize fistfuls of Volturi Make-up, Edward Cullen wristbands and T-Shirts emblazoned with TEAM EDWARD or TEAM JACOB and shoving them into the faces of shocked shop assistants. Well Ms. Meyer, I hope you are happy. Thousands may love the films for the moment – and trust me, that will fade by the time another equally trashy film makes the silver screen – but millions more hate the books for what they have become. A love and respect that could’ve lasted for centuries has been destroyed in an attempt to make a quick buck.
Surprisingly, the movie industry has not always been this corrupt. Only recently have film makers become more intent on making money that creating a most welcome adventure. Indeed, there used to be a time where one could read a book, then see an adaptation of it in the cinema and would immediately be transported back to that world. The book would not be disgraced, defiled ad destroyed by the film, but rather given a new lease of life by it. Lord of the Rings was phenomenal; it was exactly like the book and proved that magical imagination could be transcribed onto to screen with ease. The first few Harry Potter films were the same. But then they too turned their backs on the books in order to create elaborate and completely pointless story lines; JK Rowling is lucky that the fan base dedicated to her books is loyal enough to stick by them. Admittedly, Ms. Rowling was too in the early years, and yet the books have finally been deserted in favour of a large, flowing income. As much as I love the Harry Potter series, they missed out far too much of the important information in the most recent two in order to make them good.

Not all authors have betrayed their creations to the tune of twelve silver coins though. Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries’ have been made into two highly inaccurate,  erroneous and obvious movies. However, Ms. Cabot cheerfully takes them to pieces through her character Mia Thermopolis, making for a welcome change.
I cannot amend what has already been made, no matter how much I may detest the inventions, yet I can at least hope to alter what may come. Hollywood needs to find a way to make better adaptations or else stop altogether before a fully fledged riot breaks out.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


For my science class, as part of a rather more-heated-than-anticipated discussion.
Dedicated to the people I work with who put up with me and it turn allow me to do all the work.

Battery farms. Alongside the fur trade and animal testing farming is the biggest source of outrage for animal rights activists. It seems that rearing animals solely for slaughter has suddenly been deemed cruel - provided they are kept in confined spaces. Yes, it is their habitat that makes it immoral. Are they really that bad?

Now you mustn't think I'm some psycho animal hater who runs about museums at night slapping Capuchan monkeys (really, I'm surprised there weren't hordes of protesters outside The Night at the Museum studios screaming for blood; human blood, of course) - I simply think there has been far too much outcry against these farms and not enough of the other side of the story. I guess that makes me the Voice of Reason. Realistically, intensive farming is the clever man's meat. Cost, time and space effective, it is sparing with the things that the current economy is crying out for. As beautiful and famous our British countrysides may be, we are long past the era where they are needed. When there are thousands of people who live stacked on top of one another in minuscule flats where there isn't enough room to swing a cat (which incidentally is a real violation of animal rights), it is ludicrous to suggest that acres of land are better put to use for eight pigs to run around in mud. Expand people! Yes they are beautiful, but people would much rather stare at the image of them on their TV or computer screens, and people rarely walk in the countryside anymore unless they are forced to be crazed DofE enthusiasts. I do not advocate the post-apocalyptic scene of burning fields and polluted (well, more-than-it-already-is-polluted-) air, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, I digress.

My main fault with "organic farming" is the cost. With the current economic downturn, it is absurd to pay so much for something which - when cooked right and not in a half-hearted attempt to avoid being bias - tastes no different to that farmed in cages. You may say that you can't put a price on morals, but I believe you just did - and it's extortionate. And may I ask what the big uproar about morals is? They may not be running amok in a large field, but the animals in battery farms aren't exactly beaten, put in shackles and made to perform shows. They are well fed and kept healthy, juxtaposing the common image that is circulated. And anyway, bacon is bacon - it doesn't taste or look happy just because it died that way. And whichever way you go about it, it still ends up on someone's plate.

But when it comes down to it, it's really simple: if you don't like it, don't eat it. It's not exactly the attitude I'm normally comfortable with, and although I don't like people choking others with their views, I do think that if you see something wrong you should try to change it: even if that change is just raising awareness. Lazing around and watching things unfold is a cowardly way of life. But in this particular instance, I do break my rule. The removal of all battery farms is a wrong and, frankly, an inconsiderate move. If all that is left is organically reared meat, what happens to those who - through no fault of their own - cannot afford it? Are they condemned to a life of greenery so that a few chickens can flap about aimlessly for the duration of their short lives in an exceedingly large field? Our species may only be a pointless blip in the expanse of time, but for now we are reigning superior and we should reap the benefits that come with it, rather than ponder our dinner's feelings.

Organic farming is just the consolation for the failed vegetarian. You take the custard and I'll have the sausages, wherever they were made: now that's true Ambrosia.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

My Bloody Valentine

Another year, another annoying and grating February holiday. St. Valentine’s Day. If I had to live in a world where Valentines was hyped up an inch more than it already is, I would exile myself to a Castaway-like island and shun myself from this sad and obsessed land.

Oh how I despise it. It’s just another excuse for Clinton cards, Moonpig- and to make a fortune out of poor, conned fools. A piece of folded paper with some insincere and mass-produced words printed in a supposedly sophisticated slanty writing. Ooh, I’m feeling the love. Every programme on seems to spin their advert into some form of Valentines entertainment. I think the one that astounded me the most was the beginning of the Championship League, saying that you should watch it this February 14th. Seriously? If any guy tried that with me, they would be out the door faster than they could say football. And as for Tesco’s advert – chocolate, Häagen Dazs and alcohol sound like the perfect recipe for fattening a woman up to cook for Sunday dinner, not a romantic evening in. And they’re all at it – “eat my food, sweet couples, feel fat, bloated and fall asleep early in front of the TV. Happy Valentine’s suckers...” They seem to be calling more to the singles watching the television instead of the coupled. Ice-cream and chocolates lead only to an all you can eat buffet of self-pity, and a soppy chick flick marathon ending with Titanic, before curling up in the foetus position with a bottle of whatever is closest to hand wailing away to Jamie O’Neal’s All By Myself. Smother yourself with chocolate my friends: it will love you and treasure you like no human ever can! Amongst all these false and annoying moments through the day, I await the genius that should surely come from at least one chocolate brand that speaks directly to the single people - they would make enough money to rival Bill Gates.

Then there’s the rest of the merchandise – how dare they sell teddy bears in the name of Valentine! No! It is an outrage! Teddy bears are the sole comfort for the lonely at night, someone to cuddle in the recesses of a dark night: it is not fair that they would take this and give it to those in a relationship. And as for the “luxury lingerie” that men give their partners – who are they really for? I mean really. That’s just a present for yourself now isn’t it? And 99% of Valentines jewellery are bought last minute from the local pound shop. These presents are given under false pretences and an increasing amount of pressure from society to conform to such insincerity.

I would like to point out at this point that this is not a rant spawned of bitter twistedness as many would assume; I am not stewing in a lonely pit of depression, surrounded by eighteen cats and bunnies in boiling pots – and although there are more chocolate wrappers around me than around a sane person, this is down to my addiction to Milka. Who knew Heaven could come from a cow? In truth, my hatred of this holiday is the same as that of Christmas. It is over-hyped, over-priced and has lost any valuable and earnest meaning. The holiday has become more about the flash of cash and material value than the actual show of love and caring. Plus the fact I have always thought that it is stupid that one day is singled out to tell someone how much you love them. Surely you should be made to feel special every day of the year – to make someone feel more loved once a year is nice, I’ll admit, but sucks to be around on February 15th when everything returns to normal. Seems more damaging than anything else – showing you how good things could get then returning to normal within 24 hours.

Still I can’t complain – at least it is over faster than Christmas. Though you are still burdened with the people around you. I find there are two type of couples around at this time of year – those that treat Valentines like another day and don’t go all out; and those that get together on the 13th and break up on the 15th and spend the rest of the month cramming their jewellery-from-a-cracker under your nose in a suffocatingly smug manner until you want to punch the smirk off their face. Honestly, shove it in my face one more time and it really will be a bloody Valentine.

Still, I wanted to impart only one message with this blog – that in truth there is only one Tuesday that matters this February. So keep calm, and wait for Pancake Day.