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Archive Entries for May 2016

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Tuesday May 31, 2016

Books in May

  • The Best Man to Die by Ruth Rendell
    BOM-TheBestManToDie.jpg I am pretty sure this was not one of the books I read in the 1980s but I am pretty sure I remember the TV adaptation - strangely mostly remembering Barbara Leigh-Hunt in a relatively minor role.
    Still very much worth the reading, and very amusing to see - even on the written page - how different forensics were (and also how much lighter the traffic on the roads was) in 1969 when it was written.

  • Fell of Dark by Reginald Hill
    BOM-FellOfDark.jpg This book interested me a great deal in a number of diffferent ways:
    It was set in the Lake District around Keswick and Cockermouth, which is so much more meaningful to me after my visits to Woolfest.
    It was written in 1971 - era of my youth - though one could well imagine that in general the environment may have changed less there than elsewhere in the past 40 years.
    It was similar in theme and construction to The Thirty Nine Steps: we have a hero (well maybe not so heroic in the mould of Hannay - a 1970s anti-hero perhaps) on the run for a murder he did not commit; it is somewhat episodic as he moves from one temporary haven to another; and the setting makes it similar to Scotland in the early part of the 20th C; the final scenes have him captured and in danger to the last.
    Reginald Hill makes all this a cut above the average - almost a psychological thriller - and makes me yet again very much regret his passing.

  • The Long Kill by Reginald Hill
    BOM-TheLongKill.jpg Another book set in the Lake District - what can I say? - I'm addicted.
    Another psychological thriller, this one published in 1986 and using the pen name Patrick Ruell. I have read some reviews critical of the book, comparing it unfavourably with other offerings or suggesting it should be shorter. As it is the book is not very long, and I loved the descriptive narrative about the environment; I see it all as part of telling a good story - and especially this story - not just all hinged on a thriller plot for its entertainment value.
    I also read this was made into a film - translated to the US - but was not very successful; I think that's a shame as I'm sure the plot and landscape could have made a cracking thriller - and I like the lead actor Bryan Brown more than a little.

  • The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart
    BOM-TheGabrielHounds.jpg With authors like this, I always find that I so enjoyed the previous thriller that it's hard to take up a new heroine with changed circumstances. However, a few chapters in and you are totally engrossed all over again, and having finished the book, keen to get on with the next one. In this context the habit of including a chapter of the following book at the end of the volume works very well. From reading this taster I am fairly sure I read Touch Not the Cat years ago - but cannot remember the plot in any detail so I will be pleased to read it again even if that's the case.

  • TheClerksRoom.jpg Silk: The Clerks' Room
    Very well thought through radio plays spawned from the TV series. The clerks were pretty key to the Silk stories and stand up pretty well without requiring Maxime Peake as part of the cast. In fact not having her character appear is probably necessary to the dramatisation, as it keeps the hub of the action where it belongs rather than making it seem like "just a spin-off from a TV show". The stories were interesting and very suited to a 45 minute format.

  • DenmarkHill.jpg Denmark Hill
    Typical Alan Bennett play but goes rather beyond dark humour to truly black humour. At one point I did wonder if there would be any survivors - and I was a bit disappointed with the ones that did make it, though I am guessing you were supposed to dislike them all. It was a bit all-round Hamletish (by intention and referenced heavily in the plot) which fits nicely with all the Shakespearian festivities around this year.
    I have to admit I never thought of Hamlet as a comedy before, but now I see the possibilities.

Posted on May 31, 2016 at 12:58 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Monday May 30, 2016

Everything in the garden...


It is fairly rosy - though Bridge of Sighs has black spot - and it's pretty cold and terribly windy so the plants are finding it hard to really get going.

In the same vein as the great lady gardeners I keep hearing about on the TV, I spent a fortune on plants ready for Jennie to deal with on Bank Holiday Monday. I bought two lovely Iris (Raspberry Crush and Bold Print), and Jennie brought along a Kent Pride which has been all the rage at Chelsea this year.


I also bought far too many bedding plants - lots of dianthus in pale oranges and white - as well as some petunias and others to replant the seasonal pots. I managed to do the latter myself before Jennie arrived - they are non-matching but, although the yellow and red one is very pretty, I wish I had followed through on my instinct and gone with black and white for both of them.

The result is that the new bed outside the utility room building project is pretty stuffed with plants now, and they all look fairly happy - hoping the wind and rain predicted for the week does not flatten everything.

Posted on May 30, 2016 at 8:10 AM. Category: The Garden.

Saturday May 28, 2016

The Threepenny Opera


I realised that I had never actually seen this production before - although Rob seems to have seen it and staged it a number of times in the past. Excellent of course as you expect from this cast at the National.
Read the review in the FT here, and then - since this is the start of the run for a change - get your tickets here.

As we often seem to - we spent the afternoon at the British Museum "Sunken Cities". The main message of the exhibition was the "remarkable relationship between the major ancient civilisations of Egypt and Greece" which was excellently illustrated. The sunken cities were Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus [and in case you were wondering Thonis was the Egyptian name and Heracleion the Greek name for the same city - so good they named it twice].
I found it fascinating though it's not been universally acclaimed, suggesting there is "not much there"; however it kept us well occupied for 2 hours and even left us pretty tired (not as young as used to be etc etc even though Rob keeps pretty fit with his dancing!). There was the usual perfect BM use of multi media, showing film of the items in situ under water as they were found. The larger exhibits were impressively, well, BIG - but there were also a lot of detailed smaller items - perhaps the negative reviewers missed them...?!


So that gives you an idea of the scale - and yes! he (with his sister-wife) was there... fully reassembled, upright, and largely complete.

Posted on May 28, 2016 at 4:30 PM. Category: Art and Culture.