Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months then I’m sure that you have heard of the recent ‘bestselling’ novel “Fifty Shades Of Grey”. Now whether you have heard the positive or negative side about it, this book is the brainchild of writer E.L. James and originally started off as a Twilight FanFiction which I have mentioned on this blog already, here.
In that post, I mention that you should avoid this book at all costs because it will devour your soul and make you want to weep tears of sorrow that the literary world has been brought so low. Nevertheless, I have long since grown accustomed to the fact that I will obviously do things that make my little inner voice want to slap me and so guess what I did. Yep, I read it. Someone had to take the bullet to see what it was like so that the rest of you don’t have to go through what I did. You’re welcome.

Jumping right in, the Book follows the life of Bella Swan Ana Steele as she meets and almost immediately enters into a sexual relationship with wealthy entrepreneur Edward Cullen Christian Grey. The characters are so obviously based on the main characters from the Twilight series, from their mannerisms to their physical descriptions. Ah well, there’s at least the plot to look forward to! Plus, it gives you a fun game trying to read the whole thing replacing the names Ana and Christian with Edward and Bella, turning the whole thing into Corporate Twilight. Laughable times to be had. Anyway, enough of that. Lets jump into our first meeting with Ana…

Ana is set to interview wealthy sexual deviant (you don’t find out until later, but it makes more sense to tell you now) Christian Grey because her annoying roommate, who was written out “on holiday” halfway through the book, presumably because the author had already flip-flopped her character from sensibly forthright girl to romantically linked giggly imbecile and had nowhere else to go, is ill and asks Ana for this favour as the interview took so long to set up. This is where we get to see Ana’s true colours as she does nothing but complain about being forced into this favour for countless pages. As the novel progresses you see that almost all of the things in Ana’s life are a chore from her, from going to work, to moving apartments, to living so far away from everything. Ugh, some people. Interesting side note, Ana doesn’t give her sick housemate any sympathy because she is “too beautiful”. Jealous cow. At least she meets Christian Grey out of it and we can progress in the story.

Fast forwarding through possibly the dullest section of stalking and menial tasks ever we see Ana introduced to Christians dark side. He tells her that he likes BDSM (or rather a very poor substitute for BDSM) and that he likes to have sex with women whilst tying them up, hanging them from the ceiling and beating them with whips, paddles, etc. I will take this time to point out that Ana has frequently rejected the nice, normal guys that ask her out and yet she wants this crazy beggar! From this first glimpse, Ana refers to the “playroom” where all of this happens as the “Red Room Of Pain” as it’s red and he inflicts pain on people. Stunning writing. There’s a lot of stuff about him being a dominatrix and wanting to control every point of her life and Grey comes across as absolutely, unequivocally batshit crazy. Yet still Ana doesn’t run. There’s a lot of crap about a trip to Georgia and Ana getting a job before the final showdown where Ana realises she doesn’t like being hit by the man she professes to love, after only knowing him three weeks or so. The end.

I won’t mention the story any more because it, or rather the lack of it, annoyed me. This could have been really well thought out and planned, but no it was rushed and poorly researched and what COULD have been quite a good novel is left as Bargain Bin material.

The writing style is poor to the point of non existent and there awesome seriously overused phrases in this book, such as “Holy Crap/fuck/Moses” obviously not all at once, delete them as appropriate. If I ever read the words “I flush” again and it is not referring to a toilet, but blushing and having colouring your cheeks then I think I might throttle someone. It was used so many times and for so many things that it’s a wonder Ana is still alive, what with all the blood running to light up her face like a Belisha beacon… Some fantastic plot holes present themselves too with my personal favourite being found on Page 4 where Ana mentioned her friends Mercedes which is never explained how a student can afford a

sporty Mercedes CLK

I wish my loan would stretch to one of those.

The only good thing about the writing style is that the sentences are separated properly and not by a constant stream of ellipses! Hooray!

Overall, this book gets a 1 out of 10 because it’s truly dreadful but it could have been so much more with a better author and a more thoroughly researched plot.

Oh and if you think you want to get involved in the kind of kinky stuff they do in the book then please look at some other popular portrayals of bondage and domination, such as the truly entertaining series 2 episode of Castle, The Mistress Always Spanks Twice

I’m off to scrub my mind with bleach to get this frankly awful scrap of literature out of my head…


Boys Beating Cancer


You may be aware of the Race For Life, the nationwide 5 kilometre run that is organised every year by Cancer Research UK. If you are already aware of this then I’m sure that you are also aware that the Race For Life is only allowed to be run by women. Yes, the Race For Life is a ladies only event where everyone taking part runs, jogs or walks the 5km and tries to get sponsorship from as many people as possible, to raise money for CAncer Research UK.

The obvious problem with the Race For Life is that it excludes alf the population from taking part in it, which obviously means that there are fewer participants raising sponsorship money to be donated to the charity. There hasn’t ever really been any answer to this one small flaw in the plan, until recently.

In 2006 the very first Boys Beating Cancer was hosted, with around 45 men and boys taking part to do exactly the same distance and in the exact same manner as the women-only Race For Life. The race has since moved into Newbury, which is very lucky for me, since I live about 20 minutes outside of Newbury, meaning that I am able to take part. Boys beating cancer is designed with the same goal as that of its counterpart: to walk, jog or run 5km and to get sponsorship from your friends, family and coworkers to raise as much money to put into finding a way to beat cancer once and for all. Personally, I think that Boys Beating Cancer has the potential to be much larger than it currently is and we should be seeing these events all around the UK, not just in the one location that it is currently held. Imagine how much money we could raise if this event was as large as the Race For Life and then imagine ow much good all of that donated money could do!

The race is on Sunday the 5th of August at Newbury Rugby Football Club, starting at 11am sharp, so if you plan on coming along I would aim to be there by at least 10 to. Ale sure that you can park and warm up properly! More details on the event can be found here: Boys Beating Cancer

As I mentioned previously, I am taking part in this event myself so if you wold like to support me through donations (and they are VERY greatly appreciated!!!) then please visit my JustGiving page, found conveniently at ThatRobHall JustGiving

Thank you for your support if you do donate and if you don’t donate then come along and support me and the other blokes!!!

Stop Doing That… Ordering Fast Food!

I know that I have already mentioned some of the customers that I have encountered during my time working a part time job in the Fast Food industry, but today I thought that I would do something about it! Personally, I am sick and tired of having to deal with the same questions and irritations every time that I run into one of these customers, so for the sake of my mental health, and the health of any of my fellow Fast Food Workers, here is the next installment of “Stop Doing That…”  Hopefully this will prevent my face exploding when I have to serve that 2%

STOP: Taking ages to decide
Okay, that might be a little harshly worded. I don’t mind you taking your time to decide what to order when you’re not in the queue, by all means take as long as you want to make your mind up. However, PLEASE stop waiting in the queue with no intention of using this time to choose what you want and then staring at the menu boards for 5 minutes after you get to the front counter. All that achieves is a massive hold up and me standing around doing nothing for a few minutes.

STOP: Talking on your phone
Talking on your phone whilst ordering your food is just rude, end of story. Also, don’t look at me like I’ve interrupted the most important call of your life when I ask you what drink you’d like – I’m just doing my job. How would you like it if I whipped out my phone and started yammering away like a frenzied cricket whilst you were trying to order? Doesn’t sound good, does it…

This is all we hear when you chatter away whilst ordering…

STOP: Getting angry
Occassionally, we mess up an order – we’re only human! If this happens, please calmly inform us that we’ve missed something out or done something wrong and we will be more than happy to fix the problem. Raging and shouting at us will make us less likely to want to help you. Plus, you’ll look like a complete prick collossal douche-walrus in front of all the other customers.

STOP: Asking for freebies
We’re not going to give them – our bosses get mad. Our job is more important to us than “chucking in an extra couple of bits on the house”, alright?

STOP: Taking more than you need
In regards to the complimentary condiments and tissues etc. Please only take what you need and don’t wander off with 50 wetnaps for your meal for one. Not only does it rack up the costs of the company, it can damage the environment by throwing out a large chunk of unused stuff that you picked up “because they’re free”. Save the planet people!

That’s all for today, if you have any more to add then feel free to comment and I might put them into the next post!

Also, leave suggestions for the next “Stop Doing That…” topic!

Don’t Stop Believing – Indomitable Spirit Required

If you’re here because you saw the title and expected a Journey/Glee themed post about the song then I’m afraid you jumped off the Midnight Train a few stops too early! I won’t take it personally if you leave, but feel free to stick around. (There may even be a song at the end of this!)

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. – Mahatma Ghandi

As you might have guessed from that quote, this is the standard ‘Inspirational Blog Post’. Let’s try to do it justice…

A few years ago I took part in a 5km “Fun Run” (It’s in parenthesis because it wasn’t that fun at the time) to support the British Heart Foundation. Seeing as this jog was at the very end of November, it was a Santa Jog, where all participants were issued a Santa Claus costume as part of their entry fee. They were then required to complete the run whilst dressed as Santa hat, beard and everything.

Upon finishing the Santa Jog I got this medal – and decided to stop running…

The Santa Jog came at a time when I didn’t really run. I had done a few brief training runs, though nothing up to the 5km mark, I lacked the willpower to stick it out as, at the time, I found running incredibly boring. I was cocky and overconfident, thinking that I would breeze right through this in no time flat, seeing as I was pretty fit and in quite good shape as a result of my Tae Kwon-Do. During the run, I started to feel differently and began to struggle. The explosive fitness that I had developed through my Tae Kwon-Do practice was an entirely different kettle of fish to that needed for the more endurance related task of running. I was struggling and wanted to finish, but I was so tired and just wanted to walk the rest of the way, my body hurting from the unfamiliar prolonged exertion. There was only one problem with that idea…

I couldn’t let myself do it. to know that there were so many other people running with me and not giving up made me think “Am I really this weak? I’m just going to let myself give up because I’m finding this tough?” The response? “HECK NO!! We’re finishing this!” I hadn’t banked on my Indomitable Spirit shining through, stopping me from giving in, forcing me to keep going. The idea behind Indomitable Spirit is that everyone has the character to shine through adversity and challenges, that they won’t give in to anything and will give a hundred percent until they just cannot give any more. Indomitable Spirit is one of the five tenets of Tae Kwon-Do and it is the tenet that I identify most with. The idea of never giving in and never letting anything overwhelm you is an idea that I can definitely get behind. If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly and not giving up halfway because it’s too difficult. Unfortunately, at the time of the Santa Jog I wasn’t ready to keep pushing with running, even though my Indomitable Spirit had got me through the rest of the run and I gave up running for a few years.

Earlier this summer I started running again, inspired by my friends and the new Parkrun initiative. I grabbed some running gear and headed out to the start of the course bright and early on a Saturday morning and proceeded to complete the 5km course. I’ve kept this up every week since so far and even though I still find running dull and occasionally find it hard to keep going on the runs due to a twingey (is that a word?) thigh muscle, I’ve always pushed myself through and made it to the end – usually with a smile on my face. All of this is down to the idea of Indomitable Spirit and never giving up, no matter what the odds.


So, tell me: What situations have you been in where you’ve needed to call upon your Indomitable Spirit to succeed?

Share your answers in comments and, as mentioned at the start, here’s a rendition of the Song “Don’t Stop Believing” originally by Journey. This version makes it onto my running playlist due to the up-tempo beat and the fact that it serves as an audible reminder to do exactly what the song says – Don’t. Stop. Believing.

Stop Doing That… At the Gym!

Today, I joined my local gym for the summer, seeing as I’m a big fan of the gym when I’m at uni and it would give me something to do and another way to be healthier, in addition to my saturday morning 5km runs, as part of the Parkrun scheme. For more details about Parkrun and to find your nearest run see here.

I love being in the gym and always leave feeling great, if a little tired from the session. Now seeing as the gym is a public place, it always tends to have a number of other people in there which is mostly fine – I’m not that antisocial. The problem is that there is usually a “That Guy” or “That Girl” (if I’m being honest, 9 out of 10 times it’s a guy) in the gym at the same time I’m in there. You’ll easily recognise them as they stick out like an elephant in a crocodile enclosure and can normally be heard, if not seen, making a nuisance of themselves. What follows is a list of things that you, if you are that guy or there is any chance that you might become that guy, need to stop doing at the gym.

Don’t be this guy…

STOP: Wearing non-gym clothes
This is quite possibly one of my biggest pet hates about the gym. There is ALWAYS someone in there wearing jeans. JEANS I tell you! The thought of all that chafing makes me cringe for the sake of privates! And it’s not just jeans that you need to stop wearing to the gym. Anything that isn’t standard gym wear (sports shorts, t-shirt, vest, trainers etc.) shouldn’t be worn in the gym. The worst offender that I’ve ever seen was someone wearing both jeans and espadrilles at the same time and trying to acieve a pretty intense workout at the same time. Espadrilles should never be worn in ANY social situation, but it goes doubly for the gym. Just don’t.

STOP: Flexing
Yes, that is a mirror. Very well observed of you. No, that isn’t an excuse for you to stand there admiring yourself in it for half an hour. You cannot be so vain that you physically cannot resist the need to flex and stare at yourself the entire time you’re in the gym. Do what the rest of us do and use the mirrors to check that you’re keeping a good form with your exercises, alright Narcissus?

STOP: Grunting
It’s not needed in womens tennis and it’s not needed in the gym. A little noise or small grunt every now and then is fine, we all do it, but if you’re screaming and making noises that could sound vaguely questionable in their origin then you’re doing too much.

STOP: Talking during a set
I get that some people like to socialise during their time at the gym, really I do. I don’t particularly want to, no, but if you catch me off guard whilst im filling my bottle or taking a rest in between sets, then by all means I will happily have a chat with you. Just don’t talk to someone when they’re in the middle of a set. That is quite possibly one of the most distracting things that you can do to someone who is mid lift, or mid sprint! Just let them finish their set in peace and be respectful of others personal space. Oh and stop asking me if i’m “nearly done with that”. If I’ve finished my set, you’ll see and then you can ask if you can jump in for a set. The majority of the time, I’ll be happy to take a rest and let you do your thing.

STOP: Offering advice to everyone
You’re not the gym police, you don’t need to inform us if we’re doing something differently to the way that you do it, that you learnt from a professional exerciser during your gap year in Siberia. Just leave us be, and if you think someone is doing something in a particularly dangerous way then just relax and go tell a member of the staff. They’re paid to police us, not you.

There may be more and I’m sure I’ll think of them in due course, after my next couple of visits to the gym with “That Guy” floating about the place, so look forward to the inevitable second part!

Literary Hell

I’ve read a lot of books over the years. As a consequence of this, I have therefore read quite a few utterly terrible books. The rule seems to be that for every 3 books that you find that are great, you will find one book so bad that it makes you want to scratch your eyes out so that you can’t read anything that bad ever again. These terrible books deserve to meet a horrible fate, the kind that is arranged in darkened rooms under bad lighting. Which lead to me think of the BBC TV show “Room 101”. For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a wikipedia entry for the show:

“Room 101 is a BBC comedy television series based on the radio series of the same name, in which celebrities are invited to discuss their pet hates and persuade the host to consign them to a fate worse than death in Room 101, named after the torture room in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is itself named after a meeting room in the BBC Broadcasting House where Orwell would sit through tedious meetings”

So let me introduce you to the first installment of “Literary Hell” the place that bad books go to die!

First up, and I know it’s the easiest book series to hate and lambast, BUT:

The Twilight Saga
I have the unfortunate accolade of having read the entire saga and I must say, I wish I hadn’t. Without mentioning the films (which are even worse, if that’s even possible!) the Twilight saga was a bland, unstructured bloke of prose that featured a character that was only unforgettable because of how utterly shapeless and devoid of any detail and emotion she is. The books read like a madman spewing gibberish at you in the street, with very few coherent parts that added up to make a thoroughly underwhelming plot. Spoiler Alert: Nothing Happens! The first two books are about love and loss, the third book features a battle between a vampire army and a smaller group of “friendly” vampires which we don’t see because we’re focussed on Bella and her non-adventures and the final book builds up to a gigantic confrontation that doesn’t happen and is resolved peacefully and with love and care. Utter, utter garbage. Dracula would be turning in his grave if he could see how people use the word “Vampire” nowadays (well, he would be if it wasn’t for that stake stopping him ;D ).

I’ve mentioned before (here to be precise) how much I enjoyed the first Hunger Games book. The second installment wasn’t as good, but I could live with it. However, the third and final part of the trilogy was such an unadulturated crime against humanity that it’s a shock how it got through the publishers! Mockingjay takes every good aspect of the first two books and makes them awful, putting Katniss into an utterly unbelievable war setting and robbing her and the other main characters of everything that made you love them in the first few books. Marginally better than the Twilight Saga, but come on, that’s not something to be boasting about…

Fifty Shades of Grey
Oh yes. The big book of the moment, the one that everyone is talking about and hailing as amazing. Surprise, surprise, I have something bad to say about it. Now, whilst I haven’t read the ACTUAL book, I HAVE read the majority of the original ‘FanFiction’ that eventually became the book, oddly titled “Master of the Universe”. Let me tell you, don’t ever read this. If you do, you will want to rip off your skin in an effort to feel something more painful than reading it. You will never find anything more painful, not even getting kicked in the nuts. Fifty Shades of Grey was originally a “FanFiction” of the Twilight Saga, in which Bella, a student, meets Edward, who is a CEO of a massive corporation, in an interview and then  signs her life away before realising that he loves BDSM and whatever. The entire premise of the book is flawed from the start, like trying to polish a turd, you cannot make Twilight better. The real kicker, however, comes in the form of the actual writing style. The overuse of elipses between each statement is possibly my least favourite new writing trend, making everything seem like one big run-on sentence. The dialogue is so hammy that i would avoid it if you like to keep Kosher and the only thing that seems to have changed between the transition from “Poorly writtien Twilight FanFictition” to “Published Poorly writtien Twilight FanFictition” are the names given to each of the main characters. Avoid this book at all costs, it will devour your soul.

If you’re up for a challenge, I’ll include a link to the “Read Online” version of Master of the Universe. not for the faint hearted.
Possibly the worst thing to happen to literature, ever.

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of Literary Hell, I’ll be back with more once I’ve read some more incredibly bad books!