The Versions of Us – by Laura Barnett

30 07 2016

The front cover cites Elle Magazine as saying this is “One Day meets Sliding Doors” and I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Eva is a student at Cambridge University in 1958 and is cycling to a lecture but swerves to avoid a dog while Jim looks on.

  • Version 1 – as she swerves she goes over a nail and gets a puncture and Jim comes to her aid
  • Version 2 – the dog changed direction and so she just stopped to gather herself, then continued after Jim asked if she was ok
  • Version 3 – as she swerves she loses balance and falls off, again Jim comes over to help

And from these, we have three parallel stories that we pop in on at varying points over the next 56 years.

The beginning is hard to get into until each of the three threads have become a little more distinct and easy to separate out, but once you get to that point it really is a good read. We see marriages to different people, relationships with different characters, some who pop up in more than one version, and some who are only in one. We don’t always pop in at the same point, but occasionally all three come together to one event, but you read it happening in different ways with different people and allegiances, eg a brother’s birthday, a parent’s funeral (not a spoiler, we’re spanning half a century here!).

I know of one person who read this book in a different order – reading all of version 1 first, then all of version 2, then all of version 3. I’d love to do this if I didn’t have so much else to read as I’d really be interested to see how each thread flows on its own!

It’s quite interesting to cover than length of time in a book as well, the throwaway comments about fashions and hairstyles, as well as the first time facebook gets a mention right at the end almost feeling too new-fangled!

After a tricky start I really liked this. The first half took me about 3 weeks, the second half was less than a week I reckon! I often find that’s the way with books, but with this one more so.

the versions of us

Internet highlights – w/c 24th July 2016

30 07 2016

Sizes of countries at varying latitudes

Brilliant dogs

90 year’s of the Queen’s fashion

We’re not all beautiful (no matter what the adverts say) – and that’s ok

How to misbehave at a Christian festival

Someone has translated the Lion King intro from Zulu to English

The horrible stories behind Don’t Tell The Bride

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Internet highlights – w/c 17th July 2016

23 07 2016

Do you have correct restaurant preferences?

Farage massively tripped up on needing to speak the language of the land

How you can help traffiking victims by taking photos of your hotel room

Strictly rumours!

Release date for Wicked!

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Vegetarianism and Insect bites

21 07 2016

A friend of mine put up a theory that because she’s vegetarian, and therefore has “greater respect for animals”, she doesn’t get bitten by insects. It seemed an interesting idea so I decided to test it!
She jokingly requested a report, and so I found an old template for GCSE Science write-ups and below is what we found out!

To determine whether a person’s choice to eat meat has any effect as to how much they may get bitten by insects.

Factors which will affect the results
We won’t have quantitative data to analyse as a person is not generally aware of precisely how frequently they are bitten, so this data collection will need to be qualitative.

Preliminary Work
We asked two or three people around the office to see if this is the sort of study that could be run. All subjects asked were able to give an answer, and interestingly all support our hypothesis.

I don’t think we will see a strong correlation, but hope to see a positive one to some degree.

A survey will be conducted over Facebook and Twitter to ask people to answer two simple questions:
1) Do you tend to get bitten by insects or not?
2) Are you vegetarian?

Results will simply be tallied from both social networks. There is a chance some people could be vague about their answer to question one, so some of those may need to be considered for validity.
We may get answers from pescatarians; these would need to be treated as a third group.

Internet Connection



Tables of Results

table of results

Other than the obvious conclusion that I know an awful lot more meat eaters than I do vegetarians (or at least, ones that will respond to surveys), there is a clear difference in results between vegetarians and omnivores.
80% of vegetarians surveyed do not tend to get bitten by insects, whereas for meat-eaters this was only 45.1%
Obviously it would be advantageous to have a larger sample data size, particularly of vegetarians, but the results I have obtained clearly support the hypothesis.



Evaluating Evidence

One person was a bit unclear in their answer and said “not often” in response to the first question, which I treated as a no, but could easily have been a yes. If more people had responded like this I would probably have split them across the categories. Fortunately it was only the one.

For a future extension to this project I know some people who have had phases of their lives in which they have been vegetarians and phases where they have not. It would be interesting to hear anecdotal evidence as to whether this change in diet had an effect on them being bitten by insects.s

It would also be interesting to see what other dietary options had an effect on being bitten. For example, one test subject asked if a high intake of sugar would affect the likelihood. This would be particularly interesting given the current fashion of cutting sugar out of diets.

Internet highlights – w/c 10th July 2016

16 07 2016

Brilliant paint colours

Excellent parenting

David Cameron on the Going Home Song

50 Boris Quotes

How we suddenly got a new Prime Minister

Problems with *how* we currently sing in church

Potential massive changes to the UK Driving Test

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Internet highlights – w/c 3rd July 2016

9 07 2016

Ways to share the love

Celebrity face mash-ups

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Room – by Emma Donoghue

5 07 2016

I love a book that’s a bit different, and this definitely is.

If I tell you it’s a book about a woman who was kidnapped at 19, was raped, and now has a five year old boy who lives with her in a locked room, and their captor visits each night – it sounds pretty miserable.

If I tell you that the entire book is narrated by the five year old, in the language of a five year old, completely how he sees the world, it’s completely different!

So we have a story being told by a little boy who thinks the entire universe is the 11 foot square room he lives in, and everything else either “real” and in the room, like Bed or Shelf or Table (all objects in Room are referred to as proper nouns and have genders), or else it’s “TV”, like trees, dogs and houses.

It’s such an interesting perspective to take, and makes it far less sinister in a way, almost innocent.

He’s an incredibly clever boy, exceptional vocabulary and reading skills, as I guess that’s one way they’ve filled time, but on the other hand, he would never know how to handle grass, or a flight of stairs!

Of course, there is an attempt at escape and there’s a whole new world to learn about, but adjusting to that isn’t easy. Forgetting about the media attention, the infection risks for a child that’s never met other people, and seeing family for the first time, we also have to deal with the fact that people who look tiny are just far away, and rain doesn’t hurt.

It really is a fascinating concept, as well as a gripping story.


When I finished the book this evening I put the film on, and I don’t know if I watched it too soon after reading the book, but I didn’t like it anywhere near as much. Of course films have far less detail in, but it skipped some fairly major sections of the book. You also completely lost the child narrative – if anything it felt more like it was about the mum than the boy. I’m sure it’s a great film in its own right, but don’t watch it right after reading the book!

Internet highlights – w/c 26th June 2016

2 07 2016

A very simple way to show solidarity with the UK’s immigrant population

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