Fairy Tales & Long Tails: The Top 10 Most Famous Literary Villains

I’ve always found villains in books to be fascinating, whether it’s because of their glee when they’re causing havoc, their deeply fascinating intellectual psych or whether it’s because they’re just downright entertainingly evil in a way that the heroes are never allowed to be. Maybe it’s also because the villains symbolise the free, uninhibited sides of ourselves that do all the things we’d want to do if only we didn’t have that darn conscience. Although for those of you listening to that pesky voice telling you to burn stuff…er…that might not apply.

Here’s my list of Top Ten in no particular order:

1. Lord Voldemort (or Tom Marvolo Riddle) – Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
This is a pretty disturbing character, showing how magic can go to one’s head (and burn off your nose to make you look like a cocaine-user in the process). Lord Voldemort is a sinister wizard, intelligent, manipulative and quite charismatic – a lethal combination which works well to gather followers who are willing to destroy, murder and battle in his name. With people being afraid to say his name out loud, he is almost comparable to a mythical legend whose actions have a long-lasting, although terrible, legacy. The film adaptation did justice to his creepiness, showing a ruin of a man with barely any humanity left and a consuming ambition to win – not to mention a seriously worrying face problem. Dentist, anyone?

2. The Grand WitchThe Witches, Roald Dahl
An old hag severely in need of a face-lift, The Grand Witch is the ultimate scary witch with features that you never even knew about until you read this book. Bald, blue-spitted, wonky teeth, square feet and with about a hundred other maladies which also sound suspiciously like something a lot of old people might suffer from (hate children, always telling children to take a bath), the Grand Witch has ambitions no less than to rid the population of their greatest pests – children. Quentin Blake captured the look well, using sinister looking figures with scary eyes and wonky noses to make us think twice about every other strange woman who offers us sweets in the street. Not that I ever took sweets, Werthers Originals were never my thing, hmmph.

3. Count DraculaDracula, Bram Stoker
The original of the Gothic bloodsuckers, this character is surprisingly understated in the actual book itself, rather than the Hammerstein-style, blood-spatter and gore we often see today. Nor is he like the sexy-pire seen in Angel and Buffy, with their techno-gadgets and sparkly stakes. Dracula is a Transylvanian aristocrat who uses dreams, charisma, manipulation and intelligence to fool the hero, Jonathan Harker, and manages to get very bitey with Mina, his fiance/wife. What follows is a difficult journey to hunt down a cleverly hidden vampire who is difficult to defeat.
Not to be confused with Vlad the Drac, the vegetarian vampire, who incidentally also is a pretty nifty dancer too.

4. Lady MacbethMacbeth, William Shakespeare
Quite possible one of the coolest villains, both in level-headedness and erm…levels of awesomeness, Lady M is a very memorable female anti-hero who isn’t quite villain nor heroine. Unlike her weaker-willed other half, she’s a strong character and willingly pushes her hubby onto meet her higher ambitions (who WOULDN’T want to be Queen, eh?) Although she’s finally reduced to a hand-wringing wreaked, unravelled by her own imagination and visions of blood, she’s proof that behind a successful man is a pushy woman who may not necessarily always be his mother.

5. SauronLord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien
This villain is more than just a big eye in the sky, it’s a FIERY, angry eye in the sky. Unlike the more subtle, politically-charged eye of Orwell’s Big Brother, this eye is constantly searching for the One Ring which will bring him better broadband quality and more Sky channels. Or something like that anyway.
Makes you want to buy some eye drops for the poor, cranky thing.

6. IagoOthello, William Shakespeare
Another of ole Billy Shakespeare’s creations (yes I’m a fan of Mr S, as you can see), this time of a master of the manipulative mind-changing and seed-sowing. And he’s not very nice to his wife either.  Iago is the epitome of the whispering devil on your shoulder, being careful to side-step any actions which could land himself in trouble while always encouraging the worst in others for his own entertainment and jealousy. Racist, jealous and sexist, this is a pretty nasty character, and not someone you’d want to your pet guinea pig to in case he micro-waved it out of pure spite.

7. Professor MoriartySherlock Holmes Casebooks, Arthur Conan Doyle
Moriarty is the ultimate brainy villain, designed to be Sherlock’s perfect arch-enemy to match his wits. Always in the middle of a network of thieves, spies and murderers, Moriarty represents chaos and villainy, always escaping away in the background without being caught in an exasperating slippery way. Mind you, this is from the Victorian period where people were so prude they’d put pieces of fabric around table legs to hide any potential scandal from looking at…well…it’s legs.

8. The White WitchThe Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
With her shares in the Turkish Delight Factory, a questionable hairdo and a face seriously in need of some make-up to liven it up, the White Queen is another female delight who does the usual tyrannical thing of keeping the land in ice and terror. Oh, and turns anyone who defies her into stone. While her social skills need some serious dusting, her levels of scary-ness and witchy-ness are pretty up to scratch. My sister dressed up as the White Witch once, all she did was wear a white dress and put a white scarf on her head and she won the prize for best dressed costume. I went as Alice in Wonderland but just about managed a blue dress and a random apron which nobody understood what I was meant to be. I’m guessing the long black Pocahontas-hair didn’t help much.

9. The JokerBatman, Bob Kane
Although technically a graphic novel villain rather than a literary villain, I still think the Joker deserves his place in this Hall of (obscure) Fame. Having several facets to his personality, and being seen as genius, insane, evil, criminal and heck, even funny (well, he IS the Joker), he is arguably one of the most famous and fascinating villains in graphic novels which has been interpreted and re-interpreted by so many. I love the fact that several actors have made this role their own, each representation unique to the other, and yet still open to others to be re-invented. Not sure I approve of his crazed make-up style, but you gotta love the jokes : )

10. President SnowThe Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
I had to mention this sinister fella, due to all the hype recently from both the books and the film adaptation, and it can be agreed that this blood-breath’d and rose-obssessed President is one you certainly wouldn’t want to cross paths with. Cold, politically inspired and willing to sacrifice anyone to make an example, this is a character who uses brutal, Battle-Royale style games to keep the country in check. While his motives are continually questioned throughout the novel, he is a character that is hard to feel sympathetic for, simply because he’s just a smug git.

There are, of course, hundreds more villains out there that I’ve missed out (otherwise I’d be here all day), but to me, these are definitely the ones which come to mind when I think of ‘villain’ in the traditional sense. Oh and I’d like to make an honoury mention to Dahl’s The Twits simply because they always made me laugh, and they look like half of my family does first thing in the morning :).

Any more literary villains you think there are worth mentioning?

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Catherine Bertola – ‘Everything and Nothing’

Modern artist Catherine Bertola takes an interesting concept of using rubbish, dust and over-looked dust by making them into beautiful pieces of art displays. I visited the British Museum a while back and saw some of her work displayed throughout the museum in a beautiful display of pretty flowers, shapes and delicate, 3D art.

This artwork is made solely from dust, glue and similar mediums , which is a novelty in itself, which was something which was displayed both brazenly yet also covertly throughout the British Museum walls. Although examples of this artist’s piece appears elsewhere in the museum as well, in all cases it seems to be hidden away so that there is a suggestion that the focus is not on this artwork, but rather, the concept itself. And because it is a contemporary display, it does not really fit into many of the categories that the Museum sorts itself with; therefore it is hidden on walls, behind a bench, around corners. The irony behind this artist’s work though, is that it is made up of ‘throwaway’ items which has then been put back up on walls and in the public gaze, seems a little fazed here, since there is not enough attention given to here. This serves to show then, what is seen as ‘normal’ and perhaps acceptable, and what isn’t.

I’m not sure how many people would be open to this type of art being displayed in the home, especially due to the materials used, but it does make you think about the concept of traditional art, its uses and how beauty can be found in even the most unexpected places.

Made from from dust, paper, glue and varnish:

Found in an empty tower block:

Painted surface:

Made from household dust and pva glue:

Made using dust, soap, polish:

All images belong to Catherine Bertola

The Girl in the Red in The Maze of Wonders

Featuring: My niece as The Girl in Red (special thanks to her)

One of the fun attractions at Leeds Castle was the deceivingly confusing maze, I’ve always loved mazes and puzzles, and I’ve always wanted to go in a proper one (seeing as the last one I went to was a really rubbish one in Disneyland which involved everyone just following the next person over hedges that was just ankle-high). And before you ask, it’s not cos of the maze scene at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Although that didn’t hurt either.
So it was great fun wandering around with the sisters and the niece, with all of us shouting out different ‘directions’ and er, trying not to cheat. Thank goodness it was a sunny day too, although we did worry about those mysterious puddles we found.

Looking at these pictures reminds me of those role-player maze games where you just keep clicking til you either find a door or get hopelessly lost. Or get eaten by a troll.

I also look like a bit of a stalker with these pictures but I swear I’m not. I mean, wasn’t. Oh, you know what I  mean.

Oohh, I think we’re getting a bit lost…(we were stuck in this maze for about an hour after laughingly saying it looked too easy. Fools that we were.)

Ooh! There she is! Let’s follow her!

Follow the follow the follow the girl in the red coat…

Eeeek! Dead end! Back to square one. Grrrr.
(By this point it was looking a lot less easier than when we first went in. I’m pretty sure there are skeletons in some dead-ends, or at least, some koalas nibbling on lost foreigners )

Okay let’s keep going, she looks a bit more sure this time…

Look! I sense the end in sight! Run, run girl in red, look at those fools going the wrong way!

Yaaaaaaayyy! There’s a rocky grotto to climb at the end of the maze. Now peer down and  laugh at all those fools still walking around blindly. No, not me, don’t point at me. Oh, fine.

We tried to cheat a bit (just a teeny bit) by trying to ask some of the people in the middle to guide us…but none of them could see us jumping up and down and asking for help. So we had to do it the long and boring honest way, and found our way at the end of the maze after a lot of whinging and going around in circles some good navigation and team work.

I think one of the things I loved best of all about the maze was just how neat and square all the hedges look. Even though I’ve never had a hedge in my front or back garden in my life, I can still appreciate a nice bit of greenery. Y’know?

Definitely worth a visit and a good wander around the maze if you ever decide to visit the Castle!

Macaroony Mondays!

Here’s some macaroony love for this Monday! How preetiful do these look? If only they tasted half as scrumptious as they looked, and cost a lot less. Ah ye professional con-artists of London, why must you lure me in with your colourful sparkles and pretty circles?

😦

Bought from Chocodeli (I know, even the name is cute!, these are some colourful and flavoursome pretties which are all the craze now. I know I know, I shouldn’t pander to the lastest fashion trendz but I couldn’t resist these delightful looking things (or colourful cowpats as one friend called them).

Here’s some pretty display pictures of all the candy-fied stuff in the store. People in these kinda shops never understand why I take pictures, but what do they know. Hmph. Plenty of sweets and a pretty cone-shaped…er…something to park your bum on.

Look, a choo-choo train!

And if that wasn’t enough for you, here’s a macaroon cake. Looks like a funky Christmas tree to me, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

Er. Ignore that suspicious looking reflection of half a coat and a hand on the left there.

Even the packaging for the macaroons is so pretty. I think I’ve found my newest storage box for all that precious junk I have lying around.


Weekly Chocolate Darth Vader Links

I’ve had a busy, rainy and photo-filled week so that Friday feeling couldn’t come soon enough! Time for a bit of rest, a bit of cookies and some catching up on the ever-growing book pile! Here’s some links for your curious eyes, click away!

Feeling a bit blue? Here’s some dramatically titled Screenshots of Dispair to show that someone, somewhere is reading something that makes them more depressed than you. I quite liked this one the best!

I absolutely love this one, it’s made me want to go on a label hunt to look for some of these – Funny Clothing Tags which have been found by various people so far. I’m pretty sure a lot of these are for men’s clothings.

We all have a Star Wars fan and a chocolate junkie in all of us. C’mon, admit it. Here’s something to combine the two loves together – Star Wars characters made from chocolate. The Darth Vader one looks so cute I’d never eat it!

Ugh. I better not catch anyone doing this.

Anyone who has ever watched any (or even just one!) episode of The Walking Dead will understand this feeling. I kid you not.

Here’s some art candy for you – books carved into interesting landscape pieces – very clever! It does make a tiny part of me wonder whether those were ‘good’ books which got cut up though :/

That’s all I’ll post this week, have a good rest and good luck to anyone running in the London Marathon tomorrow!

So cute that I just wanna *eat you*. Or just preserve you forever and ever.

Pablo Delgado’s Miniature Street Art

I’m a big fan of street art and I’ll always take the opportunity to take snaps of any I see around London (or outside London!). Pablo Delgado‘s miniature street art is something I absolutely adore, mini paintings on the streets and walls of London waiting to be spotted by passersby and sharp-eyed admirers. From mini doorways, quirky pieces, history (the Moon Landing) and comments on politics (Sarkozy’s ban on niqaab, for example is depicted here), there’s all sorts of different mini art shown here. Most of them seem to be hidden around East London, either in painted form or as pictures that have been pasted on.

I love the idea of this hidden world which points to a form of satire which is both cheeky and subtle, out in the open while hidden away. I couldn’t post all the pictures I liked because there were too many, but they’ve definitely made me try to keep an eye out for any that I see around London!

All images belong to Pablo Delgado

Inside Leeds Castle – A Rich History of books, art and luxuries

The outside of Leeds Castle is beautiful enough, but there’s wonders to be explored inside the Castle, which spans a history of furniture, books and art from the Tudor times to the present day. Every room has its own rich personality, being arranged in a way which displays the beautiful things inside it and makes use out of rich drapings, historical items and gigantic bay windows to throw a romantic light on everything. I had to sift through hundreds of pictures to find the ones I wanted to post, and even these weren’t enough! If you’re interested in history and in English Heritage, then this is definitely the place to go to have a good wander around so you can fully take in the beauty of the interior of this Castle.

My favourite room is of course, the last picture. I’m sure you can imagine why once you have a look at it!

Visiting Leeds Castle in Kent

We visited the beautiful Leeds Castle in Kent over the weekend and had great fun exploring the castle and its grounds, especially as there’s so much to see and do! I’d definitely advise you to visit this place if you have a chance to, it looks beautiful (especially in warm weather!) and really is a landmark in England which is worth seeing. I went with my sisters and the kids (not mine, the niece and nephews!) and we all loved different parts of it for several reasons. It’s always nice to see pieces of history looking wonderfully preserved and it was worth it as well for the good walk we had around the castle and its gardens to look at all the pretty things.

Here’s some pictures of the exterior of the castle, which looked very majestic from its cobbled stones to the impressive turrets : )