Weblog (home)


Pattern of
the Month

On the Needles
(...and Off the Needles)



About the
Idle Hands

Archive Entries for October 2015

« September 2015 | Main | November 2015 »

Saturday October 31, 2015

Books in October

  • Refusal by Felix Francis
    BOM-Refusal.jpg It's good reading more about Sid - and he has moved on - from being single and from being a PI. And even better there are hints about where he may go in the future.
    I think Felix is doing a good enough job with the franchise and I enjoyed the book. But. Always a but.
    He writes the thriller parts well - they are pacey and exciting - and he does well to stick with themes around the race track. However his writing about all things emotional (sex/love type "emotional") is simply awful - suddenly becomes like Mills and Boon. He'd really do better to not talk about it at all in any direct way...and ... just a little tip.... don't ever talk about your hero's "manhood" - unless you actually mean his manhood of course, and even then it's suspect.
    In fact - having his heroes in nice steady relationships is probably the start of the problem. Dick (or Mary's) books managed to convey real aspects of love, longing and sex, but were always laced with a bitter-sweet poignancy. And that poignancy came from the actual (and often weird) domestic life set up for the hero, not from the excellent way with words - the prose could have written itself. I suppose this does come from Mills and Boon (or great books like Brideshead!) - there is nothing that tugs more on he heart strings than people in love who cannot be together, especially if self inflicted for the "moral" good.

  • Tooth and Nail by Ian Rankin
    BOM-ToothAndNail.jpg There are quite a few of the early Rebus books I have not read - and with this one I did not even register the title as being familiar. It is "Rankin does serial killers" - and like everything else - he does them well.
    I did find it hard to relate to a guy from Glasgow not being understood in London - I mean literally understood, as in, his speech. But Rankin says he based this on his own experiences in London in the 1970s - and despite my finding it hard to believe - the 70s were a very long time ago.

  • The Burning Room by Michael Connelly
    BOM-TheBurningRoom.jpg Despite the title, this wasn't really about "the burning room" - there are several strands to the story of which that was one.
    We are introduced to new characters <tick>, and left wondering if Bosch is bowing out <cross>, which I imagine won't be too popular with his reading public, even though he really is of an age when he must retire from the police force.
    Connelley's next book (The Crossing - and already available) is predictably part of the Mickey Haller series, but it seems it brings all his recent characters together - wise move I think.

  • Miracle Cure by Harlen Coban [read by Eric Meyers]
    BOM-MiracleCure.jpg For some reason it took me a very long time to finish this book. One thing is that I was pretty clear from the start "who dunnit" - and not only who but also why, and thus most of the layout of the plot, which then became dull as it unfolded.
    I had little empathy with the characters, and, through no fault of the author, I was especially turned off by a baseball connection. The key Good Guys had a positively sickening romantic attachment.... etc etc.
    Maybe I'm just and old grump.

  • ScarletPimpernel.jpg The Scarlet Pimpernel
    An excellent reading by Damien Lewis of an abridged version of the novel by Baroness Orczy.
    In listening to this I was surprised how faithfully it was followed by the 1934 film with Percy played by Leslie Howard (known to me mostly from Gone with the Wind, although at the time he was the well-established "star" and Clark Gable was the unknown <but we don't give a damn>).

  • Sovereign.jpg Sovereign
    Radio dramatisation of the C J Sansom novel with Justin Salinger as Matthew Shardlake, joined by Bryan Dick, Melody Grove and Geoffrey Whitehead.
    This adaptation by Colin MacDonald is excellent - and apparently he adapted two other Shardlake novels as well, though I seem to have missed out on them.

  • BitterMedicine.jpg Bitter Medicine
    A great radio dramatisation of the Sara Paretsky novel with Sharon Gless as VI.
    Although I am very fond of Kathleen Turner - I always felt she was a bit underrated - this 1990s version with Gless was far superior to the 2003 version with Turner.
    I never saw Turner's screen version of VI (and it was not popular I believe) but the radio version was completely awful. Terrible accent (which was probably a very authentic Chicago - I would not know) and fast talking "witty" dialogue which was not very amusing and too wise-ass to be credible (to me).
    But I should not talk all about the shortcomings of some other version but rather focus on high praise for this one.

  • MissMarplesFinalCases.jpg Miss Marple's Final Cases
    Three new Miss Marple's with June Whitfield. Based on the short stories:
    • Tape Measure Murder
    • The Case of the Perfect Maid
    • Sanctuary
    These (the plays at any rate) show us Miss Marple in old age recovering from flu - and feeling a bit down. Her sentiments definitely struck a chord!
    And then I listened to a Murder at the Vicarage from 1993 - a plot I know only too well but very good nonetheless.

  • NoelCowardMystery.jpg Design for Murder - A Noel Coward Mystery
    So... Noel Coward as a sleuth.
    Certainly a very entertaining concept from Marcy Kahan, and an opportunity for everyone to do their best impressions of not only Coward but also in general the 1930s affectations of theatrical luvvies.
    Stars Malcolm Sinclair as Noel Coward, with Eleanor Bron and Tam Williams as his devoted staff.
    Lots of fun.

  • She.jpg She
    Interesting to hear a serious portrayal of the book starring Tim McInnery.
    One of my early memories is going to the cinema, on my own as I remember it, to see Ursula Andress as She (actually in Lancing when astonishingly we had our own cinema in the village*). Described elsewhere as "a travesty of Rider Haggard's epic adventure novel", it was a lavish Hammer Horror - but nonetheless rated certificate "U" in 1965.

    * In fact at one time we had 2 cinemas in our little village, the other building being still very clearly an unused cinema when I was young. It was an ever-present subject of poignant nostalgia for my Mother who lost her first husband in a car accident the very day after seeing The Best Years of Our Lives there.

  • LegendOfRobinHood.jpg The Legend of Robin Hood
    Great English hero Robin Hood's adventures take him from May Day revels in Sherwood to crusading battles in the Holy Land - and back again to a life and death struggle with the Sheriff of Nottingham.
    A very interesting play by John Fletcher (no not that one) which draws on the original Robin Hood ballads and stories and knits them together to make a pleasing drama. From 1992 this stars John Nettles as Robin, Norman Rodway as the Sheriff of Nottingham, Michael Tudor Barnes as Friar Tuck, Gerry Hinks as Little John and Tamsin Grieg as Alice.

Posted on October 31, 2015 at 8:28 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Sunday October 25, 2015

Trip to Lewes WSD Open Day


Time for the biennial open day at the Lewes Guild. Again I did not manage to find anything much to buy. Little Grey Sheep were there an I bought another small bag of Stein; I was very tempted by a rigid heddle loom but decided this was not a purchase to make on the spur of the moment.
We watched a demo of Navaho spindle spinning - but although it seems very relaxing I am not going to take it up with any gusto. It seems to be based around long draw, and thus the preparation of the rollag is key.

Posted on October 25, 2015 at 8:03 AM. Category: Days Out.

Thursday October 15, 2015

Jane Eyre


I thought there was nothing new I could be told about Jane Eyre - the story itself is a bit of an unrealistic dream fairy tale - but along the way it portrays most of life's trials in terms of class discrimination, poverty, emancipation (lack thereof), love, betrayal, determination, morality..... need I go on? So this production was most welcome surprise - and though very long, utterly gripping throughout.

By the same director as Treasure Island and with the same (or rather completely different of course!) novel approach. The best descriptive word I read for this was "dynamic" - if you take the "excellent" "original" "imaginative" etc as read. My favourite scenes were the depictions of the journeys by coach, which gave a real sense of the excitement for Jane going out into the world as well as a feel for how very far away she travelled. The other favourite with the whole audience as well as me was "the dog"; he really was wholly .... dog.

Posted on October 15, 2015 at 11:23 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Sunday October 11, 2015

Yet More Tweed....


It seems I just can't help myself when it comes to all things tweed. In my defence George has been nagging me to make him a bag to hold the laptop accessories which do not fit in the laptop case, nor the "half bag" in which it fits. I told him for over a year that this was impossible as I had no tweed left and his "brilliant" idea of sticking it to the beautiful items I have already made by using Velcro made me shudder with horror - so there we left it.

However, I discovered I did in fact have a small patch of tweed left which was quite literally just big enough to make something - I had to attach it to a backing as there was no room for any turnings - and the sides had to be leather. My chosen method of attachment to the body of his other bag is using leather buttons. This is more or less a permanent attachment as the buttons are really hard to get through the buttonholes. (Bound buttonholes in a loose tweed fabric are a step too far - which is presumably why you do not see them on tweed jackets..).

And speaking of tweed jackets - as another gift I purchased a "vintage" (or rather more bluntly "second hand") Harris Tweed jacket from eBay. It was well maintained by the previous owner so I just had to press it, mend the lining a little and I chose to replace the buttons with leather ones.
I was not sure he would like it but it proved to be a surprising hit - fitted him really well. [Even more flatteringly he asked if I had made it - bless!]


Posted on October 11, 2015 at 8:44 AM. Category: Crafts.

Thursday October 8, 2015

Knitting and Stitching at Alexandra Palace


Only a view of the lovely autumn colours in the park this year. The show itself seemed to lack lustre - I can't put my finger on why - there seemed to be a good choice of products and vendors, and the Guilds were there - just lacked the energy and excitement of previous visits. I did think that perhaps this was because it's the first time I went without Sheila, but it seems there are a lot of similar comments on Ravelry.
[And I bought nothing - really nothing...]

Posted on October 8, 2015 at 8:27 PM. Category: Days Out.

Monday October 5, 2015



It's that time of year again... and for the tail end of the Indian Summer, we have escaped to France for a few days - which have been filled with making plum jam, pressing apples, and bottling the juice.

[Home again on the night ferry...]

Posted on October 5, 2015 at 2:01 PM. Category: France.