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Archive Entries for September 2015

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Wednesday September 30, 2015

Books in September

  • Enemies at Home by Lindsey Davis
    BOM-BOM-EnemiesAtHome.jpg Discussed at length with friend Helen and - no - these books are definitely not as appealing as the ones about her Dad. But... don't let that put you off - still good mysteries by anyone's standards.
    Helen suggests "Falco was just an exceptionally nice bloke". However, after this book, where Tiberius progresses as the love interest in Flavia's life... I am inclined to think that Davis' heart is more in writing men than women. Helen has not read this book yet - but is in possession of the third one (Deadly Election), since she picked up a signed copy while at "Bloody Scotland" where she listened to the author talking about her new protagonist. [And I now have a copy from the library].

  • Break Down by Sara Paretsky
    BOM-Breakdown.jpg Working back through the novels I missed out.
    One of the threads in this novel illustrates the the problems of dealing with a friend who has mental health problems. I think it brings out a lot of key issues - we know and already like VI, we have sympathy with her and so we can feel and believe how really distressing it is for her to have to watch a highly intelligent peer and role model totally destroy their lives through manic depression. We also see how you can be a "good person" and yet still need to turn away from helping - possibly because you cannot really see how to help, or because there is an underlying fear of being swallowed up in the downward spiral of another's life.
    And aside from all that - an excellent thriller.

  • The Slaughter Man by Tony Parsons
    BOM-TheSlaughterMan.jpg I read this second crime story by Tony Parsons as a book-book rather than waiting for an audio version. It is in a similar vein to the first (as expected), which might be described as gritty realism - or gratuitous violence; I am never sure when reading stories about serial killers. I guess it does put one in the gory-horror-voyeur category of reader, and it's pretty useless to try and fool yourself otherwise.
    However it is a good thriller, emphasising the very real dangers that face our police force every day, however low key a situation may appear initially, (though the reader did find herself mentally shouting "wait for backup, wait for backup" several times during the story). The plot was a tense and classic whodunnit while the domestic life of our hero continues to stir the emotions in the way intended.

  • Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell [read by Lorelei King]
    BOM-FleshAndBlood.jpg Hot off the press (as it were).
    Was this better than the recent books? I think marginally "yes". There is slightly more emphasis on the crime and less on the endless drivel about Scarpetta's luxurious properties and home life - with her fantastic abilities in home cooking and obsession with fresh ingredients. Still a lot of paranoia though - and this is even self-referenced by the character, along with an allusion to her mellowing.

  • The Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler [read by Tim Goodman]
    BOM-B&MTheBleedingHeart.jpg I continue to love these books no matter how convoluted the plots become.
    Arthur Bryant is still the most colourful character - many of his statements seem so poignantly true to me, (I'm still trying to get to grips with the idea of being "old" - some of his observations made me laugh out loud). However we do not rely on only Arthur to carry the novel; other characters provide a lot of interest and complexity as well as the fun plot.

  • CrookedHouse.jpg Crooked House
    I read this Agatha Christie book as a teenager and have heard little about it ever since - but always remembered the plot very well. This is a radio adaptation in 4 episodes from 2008 with a cast to die for: Rory Kinnear, Anna Maxwell Martin, Anna Chancellor, Phil Davis, Judy Parfitt.
    Wikipedia tells me it is one of only five* Christie novels to have not received a screen adaptation but one was "planned" in 2012.
    * One of the other five is Death Comes as the End - which was the first Agatha Christie I ever read (on a beach in Spain aged 11) and I was totally hooked, even though it is absolutely like nothing else she wrote. I would love to see that story dramatised with a major spend on the setting (Ancient Egypt).

  • IanCarmichael.jpg Five Red Herrings
    Another 1978 radio play with Ian Carmichael again as Lord Peter Wimsey.
    I have to say - old age etc - I found this very difficult to follow with its 6 suspects, 6 names, and nothing to distinguish any of them (!). Luckily, as this was broadcast in 8 (eight!) episodes which I listened to back-to-back, our hero was endlessly revisiting the plot and the suspects - and then finally telling us which one was "it". [No I can't remember...].

  • WhipHand.jpg Whip Hand
    Like Many others I am sure, Sid Halley was among the first Dick Francis characters I came to know.
    So I was very happy to find (on iPlayer) the radio dramatisation of this second novel about Sid with Mick Ford starring as the ex-jockey turned detective.

  • SeveredHead.jpg A Severed Head
    I read a lot of Iris Murdoch when I first went to college and I have to say I don't think I would have really understood much of it at the time, being neither of the social strata she wrote about nor with the experience to be in any way socially aware. This radio play was described as "based on the satirical, sometimes farcical" novel - ideas which had totally bypassed me when I read it - so I welcomed the opportunity to follow it through again.
    Martin Lynch-Gibbon just wants to unquestioningly carry on in the same groove of his privileged life - including youthful mistress as well as wife - only to find himself pitched into some kind of surrealist universe when his wife announces she intends to marry her psychiatrist. Martin is constantly being exhorted with everyone else to behave in a "civilised manner" - when in fact it all the ridiculous psycho babble and partner swapping could not be more uncivilised. Stars Julian Rhind-Tutt as the long-suffering Martin, and Victoria Hamilton as his wife, Antonia.

Posted on September 30, 2015 at 2:20 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Tuesday September 29, 2015


Checking my New Year Resolutions on the quarter-day may or may not be spurring me on to complete some long-forgotten projects but ... here's the progress. .

  • Erika Knight's Aran chair cover - Completed one side of base cover
  • Bright blue man's guernsey (wonderful yarn sitting waiting)
  • Turquoise Kim Hargreaves sweater for me (Rowan Calmer patiently waiting)
  • My own design for a tapestry picture to upholster a workbox (started in 2002)
  • Pin loom woven/crochet blanket for gifts (dipping into ever growing vintage collection of Sirdar Peru) - tudor roses, bathing machine, baby hearts - all complete
  • noel letters for next Christmas (started and completed in January) - complete
  • Many many socks for my relatives (I have a lot of sock yarn.... some of it is even rather nice....).
    Some complete - final ball "Pacific Ocean" one sock - half complete.

I just can't resist those <cough> unscheduled projects....

Posted on September 29, 2015 at 6:39 PM. Category: Crafts.

Monday September 28, 2015



I was a bit surprised to find myself awake at 4am just in time to remember that there was an eclipse of the moon going on - and I had a great view of it. Not really represented in my picture but you get the idea...

Rob also took a set of photos with some wonderful detail (and a better lens!).




Posted on September 28, 2015 at 3:47 PM. Category: The Garden.

Thursday September 24, 2015

Photograph 51


A birthday treat for Robert to see this much talked about play. Sadly he is a bit under the weather so we limited it to the evening and not the usual day out .
However the production was excellent with not a single weakness in the actors - the story was told collaboratively from each character's viewpoint.
As Kings was my old college I found it particularly interesting - the set being the old building labs where science was housed almost up to my starting my degree - I arrived to work in the brand new science block on the Strand (which they are now trying to "redevelop" - or "pull down" as we like to say), but the old labs on Surrey Street were being rebuilt to become the Macadam building while I was an undergraduate.
The subject matter of the play - which I had not quite understood previously (to my shame) - was x-ray crystallography which the college must have been well known for in the early 20th century - C P Snow based his novel The Search around the subject studied at Kings.

Posted on September 24, 2015 at 10:20 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Friday September 18, 2015

Three Days in the Country


An excellent evening out after work in London to see this adaptation of Turgenev's original (apparently) 4 hour production.
Mark Gatiss was particularly excellent but to be fair to the rest of the cast - he had a role that was somewhat more light hearted than the general tone of the play - so perhaps it was likely to stand out when given to a man of his talent.

Beforehand we ate at the food market outside the the Festival Hall - pulled pork with fennel (and other magic ingredients so the vendor told us) - delicious.

Posted on September 18, 2015 at 11:55 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Tuesday September 1, 2015



Without exaggeration this was one of the most incredible pieces of theatre - almost - that I have ever seen. [I did see an NT version of the Crucible once where I wanted to jump on stage and slap everyone until they saw reason].
It was.... truly "awful" in the exact sense of the word. I do not know how the staff deal with sitting through such harrowing material night after night.
I felt sorry for the cast at the end as they provided such a compelling performance it was hard to feel one could applaud at all - everyone in a sort of stunned silence.
(Though we got it together and cheered by the second curtain).

It was also a very interesting telling of the story - for both those of my age who know the book/story backwards and those who do not - with excellent use of multimedia and theatrical technique. Really I have never seen anything quite like it. [Again the NT version of Virginia Woolf's The Waves used all these techniques and more but was an experimental piece of theatre as was the text].

After a calm early evening at the Shelock Holmes pub (eating a wonderful Benedict Cumberbatch burger... wonderful food that is though I am sure Benedict himself is also wonderful) and many jokes about doing it to Julia and other hackneyed lines.... this level of experience and performance came as a total surprise for us.
Marvelous and yet dreadful as it brought the book so bitterly to life.

Thank you Big Brother.
Thank you.

Posted on September 1, 2015 at 11:26 PM. Category: Art and Culture.