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Archive Entries for September 2008

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Tuesday September 30, 2008

Books in September

  • The Knitting Circle Anne Hood
    KnittingCircle.jpg I chose this book for its title of course, and I did enjoy it very much, although the nub of the tale is very sad indeed, made all the more so by the knowledge that it is the author's own experiences of grief that we are reading about. However, this is a feelgood novel about female friendships and the path to recovery from loss - mostly bereavement - and very well written, given the grim little histories that each of the characters reveals as we move along. The only thing I was less keen on is the idea that knitting is therapy and that a circle is some kind of support group for the mentally ill - of course, it is therapeutic and so on - I'd just be worried to have it thought that this is all it is - as if, now they are all feeling better, they can stop all this silly knitting stuff.
    Ann Hood has her own website about her books, her biography, and with a blog.

  • Buried.jpg
  • Buried Mark Billingham [Read by Paul Thornley]
    A disturbing but thrilling tale from Mark Billingham - his 6th book. Perhaps (thankfully) a little less overtly gruesome than previous efforts; I am thankful for this because even though he seems to be able to make the distasteful more palatable, I worry when I find myself interested in books about sick subjects.
    It occurred to me that the hero of this series, Tom Thorne, and the whole setting of the books in London, is the antithesis of Inspector Morse. Thorne is vulgar, drinks lager, and works in the less appealing police premises in North London. Both Thorne and Morse share a general lack of success with women, but I understand that this is a necessary plot device for detective heroes - reference the spin-off Lewis no longer having cosy wife and family. Though perhaps Barnaby and Wexford demonstrate that this is not a universal truth.
  • Saturnalia.jpg
  • Saturnalia Lindsey Davis [Read by Christian Rodska]
    This is all about "Christmas" - with all the usual problems of lists of presents, co-ordination with relatives, and huge supplies of traditional food. The main difference is that instead of just having to cope with one or two days it lasts from December 17th through to the New Year - heaven forbid....
    "Yo, Saturnalia!" - I'm looking forward to it already...

Posted on September 30, 2008 at 9:42 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Friday September 26, 2008

A Chocolate Father Christmas

Just spent the evening at Richmond Theatre for Absurd Person Singular. It was a small exercise in nostalgia for Rob's special birthday, as we both remembered it well from the Watford Theatre production many years ago. All those familiar catch phrases, and yet we'd forgotten where they originally came from. AbsurdPersonSingular.jpg The play is set over 3 consecutive Christmas Eves, and is about a power shift, between 3 couples of different classes, and power shifts between the partners within the marriages themselves. It is the rise of the common man over the snobbish professional classes - and although the latter are pretty awful people, the 'common man' really presents a rather unpleasant face as well. It is a view of a society where a philosophy of every man for himself leads to success.
The key character is Sidney Hopcroft perfectly described by Michael Billington as "a demonic reptile who relishes his growing power over the people who once patronised him"; I can well imagine Richard Briers in the original London production, though sadly I did not see it at the time. Rob observed that the final act was particularly dark in this production.
This version was set "in period" - the period probably being when it was written (1972), but, humorous in itself, it took me a while to realise it!

What it did bring to mind was an amusing tale of a little theatrical backstage error during the 1980s Watford production of Night and Day. Rob (Chief Lighting and Sound) had re-used the tape from Absurd Person for Night and Day. The latter, being set in Africa, required relentless African drums at one point, where the leading actress has the tongue-in-cheek line "O - those drums, those damn drums!". This particular evening, they had failed to rewind the tape, which overran into the previous recording, and made the line utterly surreal, as the cast were faced with a crooning chorus of White Christmas. However, the good-natured Gwen Taylor covered it with great aplomb, though the audience must have thought it a little odd, or the humour rather esoteric.

Finally - I was much relieved to see living proof that the trendy Fair Isle waistcoat (and shirt etc) fitted Rob just fine - and -
he really did get that bus pass - used it to get to Richmond....

Posted on September 26, 2008 at 11:37 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Wednesday September 24, 2008

His little face lit up...

Mmmmm cake.


And in case you were wondering about the incandescence - here it is - sparkling numbers. Rob formally gets his bus pass as of today.


Posted on September 24, 2008 at 11:59 PM. Category: Red Letter Days.

Saturday September 20, 2008

Last day before the holiday

Well it isn't of course, but that's what it was like.
When the teacher said "Now today we're all going to make a lovely [card|picture|advent calendar|papier mache egg|pumpkin] to take home for Mummy and Daddy". And we all got lost in coloured paper, crayons, sparkly stuff, and glue.


In fact, it was our final workshop for the year, run by Betty, Jean, and Wendy, who provided 4 card-making projects. We had lots of fun - but I do think that glue and I do not get on well together; we just don't gel.
Har har.

Posted on September 20, 2008 at 10:38 PM. Category: Crafts.

Thursday September 18, 2008


rutabaga-120.jpg In France, they don't seem very big on the range of root vegetables we seem to thrive on in England. O - except turnips - every where you look - turnips - for any foreigners (and by that I refer to the Scots - see below*) I mean those round white-with-a-hint-of-mauve unappealing tasteless vegetables. When compared with delicious swedes and parsnips (again - see below*) ... what can I say?
Turnips (the round white etc..) are navets in French and on one occasion only George did see parsnips at our favourite veg stall in Brécey market. He pounced, and Mme Batard told him they were called "navets" - he pointed out the "other" navets and she simply shrugged**.
On one other single occasion, we found swedes in a supermarket. However, we were unable to find any name for them - and none of the staff knew what they were called - so we all stood around the scales shaking our heads and shrugging in a true Gallic manner. In the end, we decided - by a process of elimination of 92 other vegetables - that they were rutabaga***.

All these linguistic mysteries were brought to mind by the Rutabaga shopping bag knitting pattern. I may have to make it just for nostalgia. Or in preparation for future nostalgia.

* In Scotland, they do not use the word swede, but seem to call everything root-vegetable-wise, turnips - except the tatties of course... So we have the traditional Haggis, tatties, and neeps which are actually pudding, spuds and mashed swede. [I mention this to goad my Scottish friends - so I probably don't have any now.]

** Using the power of the interweb I find that parsnips are "panais" - but French wikipedia does say they are a vegetable "a little neglected these days - except in Great Britain and the Nordics".

*** In fact these Normans were probably confused by the vast choice of names for a vegetable you never normally see there: "chou-navet", "chou de Siam", "choux suédois" - and all variations on cabbage.

Posted on September 18, 2008 at 11:04 PM. Category: Knitting.

Monday September 1, 2008

Billy Again

Yesterday I went into Kingston (on a shopping trip - more of that another time) and watched Rob out dancing with the Morris side.


It was not a great start to Kingston's carnival day - Saturday was fantastic - hot, sunny... and Sunday opened with crashing thunderstorms and pouring rain. However, by lunchtime the worst of the rain had cleared, and the three sides together had a great trip, starting out at Hampton Court and then taking the boat up the river to Kingston and congregating at the Bishop-out-of-Residence (yes, that is a weird name for a pub). This was my first glimpse of them as I walked across Kingston bridge.


The other sides were Thames Valley Morris - seen here dancing I know not what (my ignorance not their dancing):

SpringGrove3Thames Valley.jpg

The other side were Bloxon Morris - which I only just realised looking at their website are a women's side - and I don't have any photos of them. They dance in blue as do Thames Valley and for most of the time I did not realise there was a third side present. I should have realised by the number of Alan's jokes about buxom "o no I mean Bloxon" women.
Nor did I take any photos of the "OffSpring" Morris women. Just want to make it clear this was co-incidence and not at all a slight on women having the effrontery to dance Morris!
Here is a link to the Thames Valley Gallery of the day - and it includes the women.

SpringGrove4amusicians.jpg SpringGrove4musicians.jpg

SpringGrove7Hankies.jpg SpringGrove8swans.jpg

SpringGrove5BillyAgain.jpg SpringGrove6BillyAgain.jpg

Posted on September 1, 2008 at 5:34 PM. Category: Days Out.