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Archive Entries for September 2012

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Sunday September 30, 2012

Books in September

  • Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke BOM-JonathanStrangeAndMrNorrell.jpg
    So this book (mighty tome) surprised me before I even opened it. When I went to the library, I had some difficulty finding it, as it had been misfiled under the author "Jonathan Strange". I further found from the staff that it is classified "science fiction" - and yet was recommended by Alison (not known for her affection for SciFi). When I got home, it seemed George was well-familiar with it too.
    I have really enjoyed reading it though it has taken me for ever (apparently - probably due to the fairies if the book is to be believed). Despite previously reading the short story collection, the content was unexpected and very interesting, and I look forward to finding some more stories by the same author.

  • Not in the Flesh Ruth Rendell [read by Nigel Anthony] BOM-NotInTheFlesh.jpg
    It's such a pleasure to find all these newer Wexford novels (that I never got round to reading) as audiobooks in the library. Ruth Rendell may regard these as her bread and butter novels but they are well-written and interesting to read - which is more than can be said for much published detective fiction. That sounds like damning with faint praise doesn't it? So to be clear - she is always excellent - no less so for being a reliably high quality writer.

  • Good as Dead by Mark Billingham [read by the author] BOM-NewgateJig.jpg
    It's good to have the author reading his own words - who better than he knows how the dialogue should be expressed. Sometimes authors do not read well*, but Mark is a performer as well as a writer and thus, excellent.
    This book features a character who has so much back story that I suspected she had appeared before, but I could not remember in which book. In fact she was a key character in Mark's "stand-alone" thriller In the Dark (where Tom Thorne appears really peripherally). In the manner of Michael Connelly, creating your own crime universe populated by a familiar set of characters but not always using the same protagonist works really well. For the reader there is always that familiar background, while allowing the author to explore a different character or viewpoint; it provides a method of weaning readers off just the one popular fictional hero. This also improves the writing** which must get stale as it becomes harder to churn out best-sellers with little new to say. Anyway - it has worked for me; I had immediately passed over In the Dark, but now I am sure to go back and read it.
    * Often poets seem to read their own work rather oddly - there are obvious exceptions like Roger McGough or John Cooper Clarke, but, again, they are performers as much as poets.
    ** I think Connelly's recent Scarecrow was one of the best, and I am very smitten by The Lincoln Lawyer which is now a series of books.

  • The Winter Ground Catriona McPherson [read by Hilary Neville] BOM-BuryHerDeep.jpg
    I was a bit puzzled by the artwork on the various covers of this book - until I read it, and found that of course it really is all about the circus. Again, a great picture of the era, with the circus backdrop that provides a lot of interest yet cleverly avoiding it taking over from the actual plot.
    Having already exhausted my limited ability to add more to what I have already said about this series, (apart from "they really are very good - do read them"), I read some other people's opinions and find not a bad word to be said - they really are....... you know...

Posted on September 30, 2012 at 8:28 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Brilliant Bags


I made this lovely little hand-quilted purse from left-over Amy Butler fabric, which I used to line another bag (see below). It was meant to be a much smaller purse to fit into the bag but I had some difficulty finding just the perfect frame, and while looking came across these lovely retro frames, which I just had to have. I still had a purse in mind, though these are really evening/cosmetic bag sized, until the last minute when I decided to use up all the left over fabric and make a bag for a spindle. (Yes, I know it looks like a spectacle case but that's because you can't see the scale.)
I have also bought a frame with red clips, and so now I am planning another spindle case - maybe felted fair-isle knitted fabric - as I have so many spindle projects that could potentially to live in cases....
I've little experience with bag construction, but from this one, I think the top should be more gathered to better fit this type of frame, (I had little choice here as I was limited to my remnant), and the side slits should be a little deeper. The bag is a bit too stretched when opening it. Other than that - I really do favour clip closures over zips for knitting or fibre - so ... perfect.

I also completed the original bag with its lining. This is really Felicity's bag. She crocheted most of it and then lost interest, so I have finished it off, and added handles and lining.


Posted on September 30, 2012 at 10:07 AM. Category: Quilting.

Thursday September 20, 2012

The Mystery of Charles Dickens


We were unexpectedly offered preview tickets for this one-man show. Simon Callow was his own lovable self, and produced a wonderful evenings entertainment. He is now adept at portraying Dickens through his characters, having recreated a version of the author's famous lecture tours at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008.
This is a different take on the subject seeking to illustrate Dickens' life through his work, where Dickens used his own boyhood experiences bringing them vividly to life in his writing. Peter Ackroyd is responsible for the script, and who could be better suited to draw out such a scholarly comparison in such a tangible and entertaining form.

All this was much appreciated by the audience - standing ovations, and cheers for "more" all round. A wonderful evening from one of our favourite actors.

The Mystery of Charles Dickens runs for a limited season at the Playhouse Theatre until November.

Also look out for Callow's A Christmas Carol at the Arts Theatre from 29th November until 6th January 2013.

Posted on September 20, 2012 at 1:17 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Tuesday September 18, 2012

A Chorus of Disapproval


For old time's sake, I got some more tickets for another Ayckbourn revival - this time one that neither Rob nor I know well, though I did see some of the film version with Jeremy Irons.

It was quite fun - adapted for the period in which it was written I think (1984). However, somehow it missed out a little** - not sure what. Rob said that it can be hard to get Ayckbourn right, and the play has only just opened so it may improve. Certainly Rob Bryden is excellent as usual, but the play has two leads - Bryden is the "character" acting lead, "Dafydd Ap Llewellyn", and to his credit plays him perfectly understated. [Scenes of the technical rehearsal with the lighting had Rob clutching his sides with laughter].
Nigel Harman is "Guy" but somehow failed to bring that little extra something to the role, (although having said that - Guy reminds me of an Evelyn Waugh hero in that he is an innocent and passive victim of circumstance). Overall the cast is stuffed with excellent actors and directed by Trevor Nunn, so it ought to be good. I await a further report from Tony who has tickets for October.

A Chorus of Disapproval runs at the Harold Pinter Theatre until next January.

** I note the Guardian review from Michael Billington who seems to agree with me, (I didn't read it first - honest - but he expresses it better than I do, being a professional and all that...).

Posted on September 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Saturday September 15, 2012

Never Ending Blanks....


Here is the pile of colourful offerings that we made from our first lot of blanks.
It was such fun doing the dyeing, that we all wanted another go, so I knitted up 10 more blanks on the machine; (not as bad as it sounds - the winding of the skeins and doubling the yarn that takes the time, as the tension has to be kept even). Here they all are hanging up to dry in our beautiful Indian Summer sunshine.


...despite the title, I am expecting that the project is now at an end... just a small matter of some more knitting....

Posted on September 15, 2012 at 12:29 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.