In the four days between shifts, I have re-read Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, then read Half-Blood Prince twice, making it a very Harry weekend. Avoiding spoilers - which is more than I was able to, alas - it was a very enjoyable book, with Harry far more likeable than in the previous installment and enough fun and wordplay to keep us all entertained. There was one plot element which I didn't like; it made things too easy and I thought the concept was rather better explored in a particularly good episode of Red Dwarf. I'm trying to keep this spoiler-free, but the comments will (I suspect) be spoiler-y. All the same, I will enjoy looking out for "year 7" stories as people try to draw things together. It would be an excellent weekend to be at what will doubtless be a joyful Accio, if only it were possible.
Often I think I'm not terribly good with stories - I find it a shame that I often don't get some of Meg's favourites to nearly the extent she does; I enjoy the way that people have been able to produce complicated and convincing theories about Half-Blood Prince within a day or two of reading it; I strongly doubt I would be able to be nearly as incisive in years. I'm a fast reader, but I often miss what might be subtle nuances or might be really quite obvious ones, so it's a joy to see you all explain to me what I should have noticed and why it's interesting. It's not the proudest selling point in the world, but I do think part of the reason for the series' success is the fact that the stories are not so sophisticated that even a moderate reader like me can enjoy them. I shall halt here before we get into the "kids' book" argument.
On a point of grammar, there was an unusual construction on page 568 of the UK version: "...greatest wizard Harry had ever, or would ever, meet." To me, that looks not just like an unusual alternative but positively wrong; I would rephrase to "...had ever met or would ever meet", or perhaps just to "...might ever meet" (subtly different, but practically identical). Thoughts, please.
The BBC reports that the supermarket up the road might have to change hands again. When we came to Middlesbrough in December 1981, it was a Hinton's; Amos Hinton was Middlesbrough's one great grocer, opening a store in 1871 and eventually becoming mayor. Hinton's were absorbed into the Presto chain (who at least had a good Christmas ad, back in the days when there were good Christmas ads) in the early '80s, and when the Argyll Group (who operated Presto) acquired US retailer Safeway Inc in 1987, the Presto became a Safeway. Safeway were sold to Morrisons in 2004, and for six months, the Safeway sold (some) Morrisons' own-brands while remaining a Safeway. However, Somerfield bought 115 ex-Safeway stores, including ours, which became a Safeway, and now it's probably going to become something else (because it's situated between two Kwik Save branches, Kwik Save also being a Somerfield brand).
Confusing times. In addition, our local florist and garden supplies dealer, Fred Humphreys, has closed due to retirement. As the store enjoyed boasting about its establishment in 1881, this too is sad.
Well done, NASA. Well done, Lance Armstrong. Unrelatedly, what's been up with Michael Schumacher this season?