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Archive Entries for July 2010

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Saturday July 31, 2010

Books in July

  • Dissolution C J Sansom
    Dissolution.jpg This is another book gift which it took me a while to get round to reading - it seems it's Sansom's first book of a series (up to about 5 now I think) featuring Matthew Shardlake a hunchback lawyer in the Tudor times. I am not a really a fan of historical "detectives" as such, with whodunnits being an invention of the Victorian era as I see it; some contrivances completely lack credibility - and are then poorly written. But a good story (well executed) is always a good story and I thought this one was excellent. One aspect I particularly enjoyed for myself is that it imparts a lot of information on this period of Tudor history about which I knew relatively little. I do like to learn new things in such a digestible form.
    Many other reviewers have used the description "gripping" and I leave you with some words from James Naughtie, writing in the Sunday Times: "As good a new thriller as I have come across for years. The London of the 1530s smells real, the politics and the religious machinations are delicious and Sansom's voice rings true. His troubled hero Shardlake, doing Thomas Cromwell's dread work in the burning monasteries, is a kind of Tudor Morse and a character to treasure. Great stuff."
    [There was some rumour of the BBC commissioning a series starring Kenneth Branagh but that seems to have evaporated. Someone suggested Tony Robinson for Shardlake - an excellent choice but sad to say a bit too old for the role now, as the character is pretty young - I would suggest maybe Burn Gorman.]

  • Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks [Read by Jamie Glover]
    CharlotteGray.jpg I will begin by saying the book is excellent and well worth reading. Again, I learnt a lot about (rather more recent) history. Although I am familiar with the facts of the chronological progress of WWII, I never before had pointed out to me - or bothered to look into - what the occupation of France really meant, with the willful collaboration of the Vichy government after 1940, and the so-called "free zone" of France.
    I was very interested in seeing the film starring Cate Blanchett when I saw the trailers in 2001; most of the reviews suggest it lacks passion, but despite that I am keen to catch it some time on DVD.
    I understand that Faulks did a lot of research using contemporary accounts as the source for his fiction - this makes compelling and heart-breaking reading. I did find - though this is not necessarily a criticism - that the story was in two parts - the traumatic sub-plots sourced on real events, and the love story involving Charlotte. For all the detail about Charlotte's passion for her airman, I did not really feel for her; she is a restrained and someone cold little soul and I can see why they had trouble bringing her to the screen.
    I do notice that the film has a different ending from the book. I think Faulks wanted to make a broader point about keeping faith, but I thought Charlotte's relationship with the Frenchman was more real than what I was perceiving as a fantasy about the airman. I was a little surprised by the reconciliation that ended the book - and also that it had a "happy" ending, (at least to Charlotte's romance - though you can't help feeling that it was rather small beer in comparison with the other events described).

Posted on July 31, 2010 at 8:49 AM. Category: Books of the Month.

Friday July 30, 2010

The Man from Stratford

I had a full day today - with a man coming to destroy two wasps nests in my house (maybe I should not say that as it seems popular to encourage the wasp these days - but it was getting hard to pass in and out of the front door, or open the bedroom window!) - and the men from Wickes delivered our kitchen units for the Bakehouse in France.

SimonCallow.jpg

In the evening we went to see Simon Callow in a one man show about the life of Shakespeare. I love SC but felt he was slightly uncomfortable with the material and as I understood he wanted to tour prior to Edinburgh I thought maybe he was still adjusting - but he has done quite a few venues already.
I wonder if his issue was the same as my own - which was that Richmond Theatre had a simply dreadful arrangement as an aid to the deaf. It is Stagetext which provides open captioning converting the spoken word into visible text - which is continually beaming out at you in bright lights at the side of the stage. I am sure it can be a boon to the hard of hearing but I cannot see how the marketing material can say:"providing a more enjoyable experience for current audiences whether they have a hearing loss or not". It is no exaggeration to say that it utterly ruined the performance for me. My eye was constantly drawn away from the action of the play to watch a lettered board - I could not ignore it.

Future venues for the tour include Riverside Studios London, New Theatre Cardiff, Theatre Royal Glasgow, and the Churchill at Bromley.

Posted on July 30, 2010 at 8:33 AM. Category: Art and Culture.

Thursday July 29, 2010

Knit Nation 2010

Felicity and I went to our workshop "Wheel Mechanics" with Judith McKenzie McCuin at Knit Nation. The workshop was a bit laid back which was probably not ideal given we had only 3 hours - but I have found myself remembering and considering Judiths demonstations and advice long after the event.

Here is a You Tube video of Judith in a workshop (that looks similar to ours) demonstrating plying.

There were a couple if little gripes about the event - one was that the signage (once you had made it to Imperial Campus) was pretty poor - well - there was none from the (tube) side of the campus where we arrived. So even armed with maps it was tricky. Still it's their first one and if that was the only logistics issue it was minor.
The other issue was that the price of our workshop ticket - unlike on other days - did not entitle us to get into the market place. We would have had to pay extra for "preview" tickets - and in any case they had "sold out" - so all in all I felt slightly cheated. If everyone had to pay extra on all days I might have felt less so.
O - and also - I felt the wheel creche should have been free, and the website for the event was not good - looked nice enough but hard to find the information - on our workshop, one person showed up without a wheel - as I would have done if my prudent friend had not called the event organisers to check, since the information stated that we did not need to bring anything. The "homepage" was not a home page but became a kind of scrappy noticeboard which I think was a result of poor organisation of information that should have been elsewhere on the site.

Posted on July 29, 2010 at 10:31 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Wednesday July 14, 2010

Sissinghurst and Tudeley

After only about 25 years, my friend Jocelyn came over to see me from Australia - she has been over before but we have always missed each other. It was great to see her again, and we went on a couple of days out.

We visited Sissinghurst - I've always wanted to see the famous garden (now owned by the National Trust) - and it was as lovely as I expected. Unfortunately I have had camera issues for a while now and failed to get any personal photos of Joc or the garden. Anyway - I decided to post this photo of 3 generations of the family (men) take around 1967.

Nicolsons.jpg

The next 3 generations posed in the same way about 20 odd years later - for fun I imagine - and the two photos were exhibited side by side. This kind of idea always has great appeal for me (as in my crude attempts to copy the original model poses in POM) - so I was hoping to post the same here but am unable to find a copy of the later photo on the web.

As we were (relatively) close - in Kent at any rate - I finally took that detour to Tudeley to see the Chagall windows in All Saints Church. I did not warn Joc of where we were going as I was not sure what to expect - but it was utterly beautiful in its tranquil setting with not another soul about; a very impressive end to the day.

Tudeley.jpg

Posted on July 14, 2010 at 8:29 PM. Category: Days Out.