Some time ago ... almost exactly six years ago I believe ... there was a Girls Weekend in Reading, at the home of a lovely University pal. Four of us went to stay with her for some good chilled out lounging and gossip and It Was Good.
On the Saturday night we decided that we'd go to the cinema. The options were discussed, and, on the recommendation of someone who has subsequently been culled (not least of all because of her choice of films) we went to see Cold Mountain.
Have you seen it? If you haven't DON'T DO IT! You will NEVER get those hours of your life back. It's long. Looooooooooong. And it's dull. And it's desperately obvious and awful and terrible. (Thinks to self: they might not realise how I feel about this film. Perhaps I ought to spell it out ...). I.T'.S. S.H.I.T!
It was weak from the off, and just twenty minutes in I realised that it wasn't something I would enjoy. My friend (who you'll be hearing more about) was heavily pregnant at the time, was sitting next to me and I was trying to work out how hard I'd have to prod her to be able to use early labour as an excuse to leave the cinema.
I needn't have been so subtle, however. Five minutes later, another of our party stood up (we were sitting in the front row), stretched languorously, announced in a non-too-quiet voice, "I can't take any more of this shit" and left. Slowly. And noisily. We found her later in a nearby bar where, owing to the length of the flaming film, she was plastered. I envied her more than I can tell you.
Now, a short while later, I was in a charity shop looking at the books (as it my wont) and I saw the book of this torturous film on the shelf. In a moment of charitable thought, it crossed my mind that the book might be wonderful. I mean, something must have compelled people to think it would make a good film, so maybe the story, when read rather than watched, would be less likely to make me want to poke red hot pins in my eyes.
I bought it. I started reading it. I was not better than the film. I gave in, about five chapters in, and threw it across the room declaring as I did so, "I can't take any more of this shit". But, being a kindly sort, I loaned it to my friend. The pregnant one mentioned above, who by this time was no longer pregnant.
She returned it to me.
I returned it to her.
She hid it in my wellington boots.
I found it some time later.
I bought a second copy, sent her one, the Reading hostess one, and sat back chuckling.
They came to visit me and hid two copies in my house.
I took one copy to the first friend's house and put it in her bedding.
When I got home, it was in my luggage.
I shredded one copy and filled a jiffy bag, addressing it to her (now toddling) daughter, who obligingly spread the shreds around the ground floor of the house before it was discovered.
I took the other copy next time I visited and put it in the loft hatch.
It almost brained her (note to self: less of the death defying stuff. The film didn't kill us, so it would be a shame if the book did).
It went back into my wellies.
Oh ... you get the idea!
It's become something of a matter of pride. If they leave your house and Cold Mountain is still in it, you've not tried hard enough. If they leave your house and you haven't see Cold Mountain, they've got you, but you'll only find out a couple of weeks down the line.
Anyway, I am telling you all this story now because I've got visitors this weekend. The Cold Mountain Fairy, the daughter who was only a bump when this all started, and her younger brother are coming to stay. And I have one (or two ...) copies of a certain novel (oh ... and a special edition DVD) which are looking for a home.
Any suggestions, folks ...???