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Archive Entries for August 2016

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Wednesday August 31, 2016

Books in August

  • Dandy Gilver and A Bothersome Number of Corpses, A Deadly Measure of Brimstone, The Reek of Red Herrings, by Catriona McPherson
    I have to come to terms with the fact that they are not going to produce any more audio versions of these books - so I caught up with the next 3 as holiday reading.
    As wonderful (to me anyway) as ever, I particularly enjoyed Brimstone; the author writing in what I believe to be her best mode, brilliantly evoking not only time but also quite wonderfully exploring a (now) lost place.

    BOM-ABothersomeNumberOfCorpses.jpg BOM-ADeadlyMeasureOfBrimstone.jpg BOM-TheReekOfRedHerrings.jpg

  • A Gladiator Dies Only Once by Steven Saylor
    BOM-AGladiatorDiesOnlyOnce.jpg The second anthology of Gordianus short stories (2005).
    • The Consul's Wife - 77 BC
    • If a Cyclops Could Vanish in the Blink of an Eye -77 BC
    • The White Fawn - 76 BC
    • Something Fishy in Pompeii - 75 BC
    • Archimedes' Tomb - 75 BC
    • Death by Eros - 75 BC
    • A Gladiator Dies Only Once - 73 BC
    • Poppy and the Poisoned Cake - 70 BC
    • The Cherries of Lucullus - 64 BC

  • Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson [read by Simon
    BOM-WatchingtheDark.jpg As I mentioned last month - I took this as one of two books to occupy me while driving to Cambridge for my weaving course, but in fact the journey was not long enough for both and I listened to this on my return.
    It was excellent - quite a long way further into the series from my last reading and as I suspected Banks has moved on in his personal life so not miles away from TV-Banks now - although as conincidentally discussed with our weaving tutor - Stephen Tompkinson is a great actor but definitely not book-Banks. [In my normal way of recasting impossibly - I would choose a very young Martin Shaw for this role.]

  • GideonFell.jpg Gideon Fell - To Wake the Dead
    A 1997 two-part dramatisation of John Dickson Carr's 1938 thriller by Peter Ling: The Riddle of the Stone, and The Secret of the Stone. Charmingly dated, of course.
    Stars Donald Sinden as Doctor Gideon Fell, John Hartley as Supt. Hadley, Richard Johnson as Sir Giles Gray, Wendy Craig as Melita Reaper, John Rowe as Dan Reaper and Tracy-Ann Oberman as Francine Forbes. Directed by Enyd Williams.

  • Craven3.jpg Craven
    By contrast - not at all charming and dated.
    An excellent piece of radio drama - which I should not but do rather take for granted with Maxine Peake.

    Produced by Justine Potter -a Red Production Company production for BBC Radio 4.

Posted on August 31, 2016 at 6:43 AM. Category: Books of the Month.

Sunday August 28, 2016

More partying


We are in France for the Bank Holiday weekend, and it was Lloyd's birthday. I seemed unable to take any decent photos (everyone would keep moving around!) so here he is sharing a joke with his Mother-in-Law while his sister brings a suitably large cake.


Later on Lisa and I set the world to rights by the pond - the reason for the looks of consternation is we were watching the kids ("young adults" - an in fact also some rather older adults) swimming and horsing around. Drowning seemed a real possibility....


And a couple of other views while we were there. The mackerel sky about sums up the weather we experienced - and I weeded, dug out, and replaced the edging around, what is left of the flower bed in front of the kitchen (where the door used to be).


Posted on August 28, 2016 at 7:21 PM. Category: France.

Saturday August 20, 2016

Creative Fibres 25th Year

Another little lunch party to celebrate our 25th year - with our very own member's Ukulele band.


And though not so clear in the photo .... we all sang along... a very eclectic mix of musical eras....


Posted on August 20, 2016 at 3:27 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Friday August 19, 2016



An interesting evening out - and were the Mill at Sonning a bit closer to home I might venture there a little more often. As it is it's quite a way to go.
The evening included a pre-theatre meal and we met up with some old colleagues and friends whom I had not seen for ages which was fun.

The theatrical performance was interesting - rather larger than life and in truth projected slightly too much for the space - which was fairly intimate. I liked it for the set and staging which were meant to be a tongue in cheek look at Agatha Christie in theatre. I really liked this review in the Telegraph which rather said it all; it is I suppose a moderately negative review but emphasises that the play is staged as being "from a simpler time" - and the comment that it features "the least convincing death you'll see onstage this year" is not as damning as it sounds since I am absolutely certain it was meant to have everyone rolling in the aisles otherwise it could all easily have happened off-stage.

I suspect I have read the book but cannot remember it. What I do remember is the fairly excellent TV dramatisation which included Poirot (as written in the book), while Christie's stage play version excluded him. This stage version is apparently closer to the book than the TV version where the murderer is a very sympathetic character and the entire situation created by the victim around all the characters has great poignancy and almost the qualities of a theatrical "tragedy" about it.

Posted on August 19, 2016 at 6:02 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Saturday August 13, 2016

Deep Blue Sea


I was dubious about seeing this play - I bought tickets as it is the National and with a great cast and reviews it seemed a good thing to do. However I thought that although it might be great art it would be too sad for me to really enjoy.
What I was forgetting was that this is Rattigan who achieved great popularity back in the day for a very good reason. The play was very accessible and stunningly acted. The characters had you with them through all the distress and poignancy (and even real humour) to what was a very uplifting ending without sacrificing any of the realism of the plot.
So really fantastic performances from all and I am so glad that I did not talk myself out of it.

Posted on August 13, 2016 at 5:50 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Thursday August 11, 2016

Jesus Christ Superstar


Apparently it's 45 years since this musical first appeared, and as I'm pretty sure I never saw it, either then, or at any point since - I thought it was time... In addition, I think it's a long time since I was at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre*, so I got tickets for the matinee.
We were lucky with the weather - always a risk and worth mentioning, even though the cast is always exceedingly gung ho about performing in the rain, and shaming the the audience into staying to watch. As it was, before the show we sat, albeit in our coats, in pleasant sunshine, eating our sandwiches - but once we got to our seats (on the "sunny side"), if anything, it turned out to be rather too hot, in full-on blazing sunshine - I never though to pack sun screen!
The show itself, as reviewers have agreed, was a triumph, and avoided being dated despite the music itself being very much of its time, and overly familiar to all. The one or two points that the then young writers were trying to make were still clearly brought out - both Jesus and Judas being suitably conflicted - and there was delightful emulated Da Vinci tableau of the Last Supper. I think they were valid in making the arrest and crucifixion scenes unpleasantly violent - Rob commented that he had no memory of the original being quite such a violent musical... As a final point - the show is clearly a "spectacular" with a lot of light and flame effects which I think would have been (even) more impressive in a dark evening performance than a matinee - seeing it all in blazing sunshine occasionally made the costumes and effects look very slightly tawdry - but even then it added a little to the possible realism of being in a hot dry middle Eastern setting.

[* From memory I think the last time I went must have been 1992 to see As You Like It when I remember it being chilly with a little rain - and we sat two rows behind Esther Ransom. I also have a memory of the seating being a lot more rudimentary but am concluding this might be a false memory, though we definitely took cushions...]

Posted on August 11, 2016 at 3:36 PM. Category: Art and Culture. | Comments (0)

Saturday August 6, 2016



We went on a day trip to Rye. (I am somewhat embarrassed to say it was in order to pick up a 4 shaft Harris loom that I bought immediately after my weaving course - whoever would have predicted that?! More on that another day perhaps; for now, suffice to say it's lovely).
Anyway we made of it a good "day out", visiting Lamb House, which is most prominently celebrated by the National Trust (quite rightly) as a home of the author Henry James. In fact my, and most of the population's, interest in it is due to its other literary resident: E F Benson. If he were not already a firm part of popular culture, interest in him was rekindled by the most recent TV series of "Mapp and Lucia" - for which they used Lamb House. Good though the series was, for me no dramatisation can top the 1980s series with Geraldine McEwan, Prunella Scales, Nigel Hawthorne and co - it was also set in Rye though they staged the interior shots in the studio. For the recent series they actually rebuilt (mocked up) the "Garden Room" at Lamb House as the original was destroyed by a bomb in WW2.


The recreation was more like a conservatory extension on the back of the house, unlike the original which was separate from the main house and entered only via the garden. As Benson (and James) used it as his writing room he imagined Mapp doing most of her spying, from its large bay window, which had a view right down the street. You can see that Lamb House is on a corner so the Garden Room was oriented at right angles to, and to the left of, the main front of the house.


After a splendid (and huge) crab salad lunch at Fletchers House. we went on to Scotney Castle - another National Trust property. We toured the house ... where ridiculously enough I was most impressed by the 1950s kitchen that the last inhabitant had installed and used as her main living area.... and the gardens - but in the end failed to find room for a cream tea despite adventures including sliding down banks in the quarry garden and lost sunglasses.

Finally, for our last act of tourism, I persuaded G to stop off again on the way home to see the Chagall windows at Tudeley. Always a wonderful experience.

Posted on August 6, 2016 at 10:22 AM. Category: Days Out.