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Saturday July 7, 2018

Colourful Kit Bag


I've been neglecting weaving spinning and dying lately - I admit I went to a "Brioche" class last week which was interesting, and did make me think of redrafting my fisherman's rib hat in two colours in the future.... But apart from that, it's been far too hot to think about sweaters (and hats!).
What I have been involved in is making up a rather posher version of my Pattern of the Month for July. This bag (or the illustration of it) really "spoke" to me through the ages as it were, when I first found it in a 1940s magazine. As is often the case, the actual bag and the instructions were fairly rudimentary and I changed it quite a lot in the making. I am so delighted with the result - better than I ever expected since it involved working with leather - and just as well given the amount I spent on materials. [So much for the make do and mend ethos of the original bag!].

I did stick with the idea of using oddments I already had, but I used mostly chunky yarns so I did not have to work with the yarn doubled - which can be a bit of a nuisance when doing crochet, even though many old and new patterns seem to suggest it. As I selected my yarns based on colour, some of them were used double to achieve the thickness I wanted.
I used a 4mm hook with my chunky yarn, and worked in double crochet (American single crochet) in order to achieve a firmer fabric.

For the base, I used 2mm thick leather, which was tough to work but made up surprisingly well. I made the base to be an oval shape to suit the offcut of leather I had and I made rudimentary leather handles, plus a clip-on shoulder strap.

The only element I've so far failed to completely solve is the closure at the top - the bag will gape open when the shoulder strap is used - so still working on that, and nothing wholly satisfactory has presented itself yet.

Posted on July 7, 2018 at 10:28 AM. Category: Knitting.

Saturday June 30, 2018

Books in June

  • H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald [read by the author] BOM-HIsForHawk.jpg
    I heard about this acclaimed book and thought I should read it, but was very nervous as it was said to be about "loss", which did not appeal so much. However, it is a wonderful book - so everyone was right.
    And, if I had to say what it was about, I would probably say "loss" - and also "a goshawk" - which is fairly evident. I did not realise until after listening to it, that it is narrated by the author - which makes it even more special as she is (presumably) reading it exactly as she meant to write it - perfect.

  • The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear [read by Julie Teal]
    BOM-TheMappingOfLoveAndDeath.jpg I moved back to a Maisie Dobbs novel somewhat earlier in the series. Although the books do revolve around Maisie's personal life as well as the mystery plotline, I did not feel victim of any major spoilers. It does seem to be a thing, though, that the murder victims are always presented as highly sympathetic characters and you are regretful all the way through that they are so definitively.... gone. I remember a friend having trouble coping with Requiem for a Wren for the same reason; (Nevil Shute - now there's an author I have not thought about for a long time... and the friend... I haven't thought about him for a long time either...) .

  • Want You Gone by Christopher Brookmyre BOM-WantYouGone.jpg
    [read by Avita Jay, and Angus King]
    This is the latest (8th) book "starring" Jack Parlabane - and make no mistake - he is a star. Far from being stale, this book is very lively - very thrilling and very humorous.
    It involved a lot of computer hacking and scamming techniques which I really enjoyed - proving the point (in spades) that it's people that are the weak link in any security system.

  • Unnatural Death, Strong Poison, and Have His Carcase
    by Dorothy L Sayers [Dramatisation]
    I downloaded this little collection of Lord Peter Wimsey plays to listen to at bedtime.
    I found Unnatural Death a bit complicated to follow just before sleeping, but the other two I am well familiar with. As I had just seen a reprise of the TV adaptations, I know them almost backwards - and in fact to my surprise the scenes, plotting, and scripts seemed almost identical. With my eyes shut I could even will myself to imagine that it was Edward Petherbridge providing the dialogue rather than Ian Carmichael, so similar was the performance, even though previously I always thought Carmichael was a bit more over the top (don't ye know).
    BOM-UnnaturalDeath.jpg BOM-StrongPoison.jpg BOM-HaveHisCarcase.jpg

Posted on June 30, 2018 at 12:58 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Wednesday June 13, 2018

De Morgan, Fashion, and Quiz

Today my sister and I had a Big Day Out in London.


We kicked off with what my sister was really interested in - seeing the De Morgan tiles exhibition, Sublime Symmetry at the Guildhall's art gallery in London. They were wonderful - just wanted to take some home of course - and exhibited alongside interesting information and artifacts from his life and work. While at the Guildhall we were also able to get access the Hall itself, and have a tour of the crypt.
We wandered out to lunch via Postman's Park - which has a Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice founded by Watts (he of the Watts Gallery where my sister volunteers) and with dedication plaques designed by De Morgan.

We then drifted on to the V&A to (drink lot of tea and) see Fashioned from Nature - making good use of my membership while I can.... The exhibition was about the use of organic objects (from dead birds to beetle wings) in fashion from early times, through to a more "green" way of thinking that influences (some) designers today.

Finally we went on to the theatre.


Quiz is a fun and popular show based on the "coughing Major" trial (where the Quiz in question is Who Wants to be a Millionaire), and we enjoyed it along with everyone else. The audience vote twice during the show to give a "verdict" - and we were duly manipulated to alter our votes in the way intended by the author. I was interested to read Chris Tarrant's newspaper articles about it in the Guardian - his point of view is quite clearly put.

Posted on June 13, 2018 at 7:39 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Thursday June 7, 2018



All I can say is... this was not at all what I was expecting.

And if I were to say the Wushi Lion Bull creature that featured in Carmen along with a keystone cops chase scene on trampolines were quite amusing - then I would have to tell you about the rest of it.
And the rest of it was pretty damned poor - not even bad enough to be funny. In truth I wanted my money back. The face value of my stalls seat was £59 which is staggering considering a comparison with the top price £64 stalls ticket for a seat to see Network at the National.

The hype for this "show" (where the intervals are - in this case fortunately - longer than the actual acts) beggars belief: "A spectacular, high adrenaline, unforgettable journey of love, vengeance, tears and laughter."
Or possibly just tears of suppressed fury and hysteria at wasting my time and money.

Posted on June 7, 2018 at 5:27 PM. Category: Days Out.

Thursday May 31, 2018

Books in May

  • Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly BOM-TwoKindsOfTruth.jpg
    I'd been looking forward to reading the next "installment", but as I started the book I began to think my increasingly poor memory had let me down about which books I have actually read. However all was well - memory still poor but I'd just read the first few chapters as a taster in the previous book (it seems so long ago...).
    Anyway - still on top form Michael, and all the characters, old and new, as fresh as ever. The usual excellent plot with a new and an old case where the "two unrelated cases wind around each other like strands of barbed wire".

  • Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham BOM-LoveLikeBlood.jpg
    Pleased to have a Tom Thorne storyline with Nicola Tanner in a central role. It is interesting that Connelly and Billingham are moving on to key female detective protagonists. Both have had books centred on female characters previously so not really new I guess but they seem to be .. grommin them... if that's not too creepy.
    I read a review saying that Tanner was "unappealing" - and I would not disagree entirely; however, MB has clearly tried to make her a very different character from ones we have seen before - maybe one he does not completely understand himself yet. Helen, for example, was a very appealing character with whom no doubt we could all empathise - but there is only so far you can go with such a character, and now she is (firmly I hope) embedded in Thorne's personal life. So I am looking forward to Tanner being fleshed out even more in further books; maybe, meanwhile, it's right for her to be mingled with characters we already know and love. She held her own well enough in Die of Shame but it was her interactions with other people that I felt made her more 3 dimensional (ie other characters found her less than appealing too!).

  • Dandy Gilver and A Most Misleading Habit by Catriona McPherson BOM-AMostMisleadingHabit.jpg
    So here the third book this month from one of my favourite authors, although to be fair it's Dandy that's my favourite in truth, rather than the author. I say "to be fair" because what I mean is I have not read any other of CP's novels - and feel I should, as I find her writing wonderful - the way she evokes the era and language in these books is quite brilliant.
    In this one we see Dandy condemned to spend some time in a convent with its obviously limited facilities in the way of luxury; Alec appears somewhat luckier in all but home cooking, in which skill the convent excels.
    The fundamental causes of the unravelled mystery turn out to be, as usual, wonderfully of their time.

  • Calling Out for You and Black Seconds by Karin Fossum [read byDavid Rintoul]
    I finally felt brave enough to go back to Karin Fossum, and was very pleased to find audio versions read by David Rintoul whos is just perfect for these books. Interestingly, although these are police procedurals in essence, with Inpesctor Sejer in the driving seat, they are very much more than that. To me they have a slight Ruth Rendell feel to them as more psychological thrillers. These two alone serve as good examples as to how she manages to create plots and writing structures totally different from one another. The only thing they all have in common is how poignantly sad they are - reminding myself yet again that all murder stories are in fact going to be tragic.
    I would also say that I am bound to agree with other reviewers that Callling Out For You is really very chilling as you are left at the end thinking that the horrible crime may be unsolved.
    BOM-CallingOutForYou.jpg BOM-BlackSeconds.jpg

  • Fallout by Sara Paretsky [read by Liza Ross] and Hard Time [read by Jean Smart]
    Fallout is the latest VI novel (18th), and is excellent. I loved the plot and the descriptions of the detection methods. I also loved that it was wrapped up with chemistry/physics/biology (which we may call "science" - but it was specifically those - o and government cospiracies to boot). I do agree with one reviewers comments that VI's niece is a total pain and I find it hard to believe that the VI character would put up with her for one second without being driven to commit murder herself. However, I can see that the author needs all that as a plot device - VI herself is pretty sensible and effective as a PI so everything would run far too smoothly without such irritations.
    Hard Time is a fairly old novel (9th) and I was less keen on it. One reason was that the audio book I had downloaded was somehow scrambled and not only played some chapters out of sequence but also had some chapters entirely missing. [I was driven to read several chapters of the actual book to catch up with what was going on]. Very frustrating - but still not my favourite story - whereas Fallout does rank among my favourites.
    BOM-Fallout.jpg BOM-HardTime.jpg

  • The Dead Sea Cipher by Elizabeth Peters [read by Grace Conlin]
    BOM-TheDeadSeaCipher.jpgAnd so last - and probably actually least.
    I always spell it cypher but although it seems this is a "chiefly British" spelling, it seems in "modern usage" it should be cipher - and having got that out of the way - on to the book:
    This has shades of Dan Brown, and James Bond, but mostly Mills and Boon. The heroine has an improbable occupation (opera singer) and is embroiled in a mystery while on a tour of the Middle East; she is pursued by two men - one is an irritation and the other handsome and charming. Guess which one is the baddie. The End.
    Amusing enough to listen to as an accompaniment to crafting.

Posted on May 31, 2018 at 8:48 AM. Category: Books of the Month.

Sunday May 20, 2018

Roman London


Today we went to the Museum of London for a short guided tour of the Roman walls. We got ourselves in the mood by wandering around the excellent free exhibits while waiting to join our party. As was explained to us - the view above is not really very Roman but much later. The actual Roman parts are only the first few feet of the visible walls.


However this gloomy interior below was what we had really come to see: a locked area of the car park with the remains of a gate and probable guard post area.


The angles for my photos were limited owing to the low lighting conditions. [However, the cool interior was a welcome relief from the remarkably hot weather we are experiencing here at the moment].


Posted on May 20, 2018 at 11:25 PM. Category: Days Out.

Saturday May 19, 2018

Monet and Architecture


I got "club" tickets for this on spec with the idea of taking my sister, since both "Monet" and "Architecture" are definitely her thing. But of course in the end she could not make the date and Rob took the place.
The exhibition was structured around Monet's (long) life with paintings collected together chronologically according to where he lived or visited at the time - and some showing several of identical subjects painted (in rotation apparently) at different times of day as the sun moved round - none of your Van Gogh: 3 paintings in an afternoon stuff. I found all that as interesting as the paintings themselves since I realise I did not previously know much about him. However - always wonderful to see Monet's work - a privilege.


Posted on May 19, 2018 at 11:18 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Friday May 11, 2018

The Future Starts ... at the V&A


We went to the preview evening for The Future Starts Here exhibition - and unfortunately some of the exhibits had not actually "started here" - the house robot had absolutely HAD IT UP TO HERE with sorting the laundry (haven't we all) - but that probably did not affect the overall experience so much. It surprised me that it was really quite "political" if that's the right word - with items questioning if democracy was really working for this century, pointing out the truly appalling consequences of rising worldwide temperatures (for whatever reason), and catering for the increasing number of single people living and dining out alone ("We are now all connected, but are we still lonely?"). I tried out (sat in) a prototype driverless car/taxi, and was particularly taken with a tree project designed to help keep public spaces and trees healthy by having the public report in by email if they see issues with the trees; what happened was a wholly unintended performance art project, with people writing to specific trees (and getting replies), or penning odes to their favourite trees.

Really not sure what I took away from it all though - it seemed quite glum. It was intended to show "now", to avoid having to look back in future years on inevitably foolish predictions, but also to show that any particular future is not inevitable - we can make choices. Some found it "refreshingly hopeful" but it seemed to make it clearer to me that we aren't getting to grips with making any helpful choices. Now I feel much as I did after watching the documentary series All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace which showed (among many other things) that our attempts to influence our environment* have all too often ended in making things worse.


* when I was at school we were told about an idea put into place to stop the high rate of water evaporation from reservoirs in hot climates by putting a layer of another less volatile liquid on top. This meant that the water underneath the top layer heated up - not a problem in itself - until in the end it reached a temperature such that the rate of evaporation was equal to what they had started with. I can't find any reference to this pre-1970s project on the web (I've probably misremembered it) - but there are many references to more recent scientific research still trying to solve the same problem in Australia and California today.

Posted on May 11, 2018 at 11:16 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Thursday May 3, 2018

Union Chapel


Another outing with Rob to the Union Chapel to see a bright young thing. In fact I was not taken with the music although she is clearly very talented and has a beautiful voice (and was very struck by having packed out the chapel).
I was very taken with the free roses though, and struggled home on the train with a bunch - they seem to have stood up to the trauma very well indeed.


Posted on May 3, 2018 at 11:13 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Monday April 30, 2018

Books in April

  • Shetland Series by Ann Cleeves
    I decided it was time to read the Shetland books - especially as the last one is due out this year. I really loved the TV adaptation (having not read the books) and the only minor quibble I have now is that Doug Henshall* does not really fit the description of the Spanish heritage of Perez - but that is all. (O - and I thought Sandy was a chubby sort of guy - but I made that up I think).
    As I thought that Fran had died prematurely of natural causes, Blue Lightning came as a bit of a shock. Other than that - brilliant.
    BOM-RavenBlack.jpg BOM-WhiteNights.jpg BOM-RedBones.jpg BOM-BlueLightning.jpg BOM-DeadWater.jpg
    * Also brilliant in his role in Network - although maybe a bit young (looking at least) for the role of Max Schumacher?

  • The Last Secret Of The Temple by Paul Sussman BOM-TheLastSecretOfTheTemple.jpg
    I could not get hold of an audio book for this first book by Sussman so it took me a little longer to get round to reading it myself. Here we see how the two policemen on each side of the fence get together to solve their first crime. As I said - his thriller writing improved over the 3 books - not being a writer I can't really say how or why. However, you can see that the opportunity for these two to be long term partners in combating crime were going to be limited - and the author ensured that was indeed the case in the third book, before his own untimely demise. Well worth the read.

Posted on April 30, 2018 at 5:53 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Tuesday April 24, 2018

Say you don't mind...


Little did I imagine in 1972 that I would be doing this in Grayshott Village some half a century later..... as I'm guessing Colin didn't either....
Great evening!

Posted on April 24, 2018 at 11:14 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Saturday April 21, 2018

Absolute Hell


I am quite interested in revivals from this period, so I took the opportunity of getting some tickets for a preview evening. Controversial in 1951 - but that was a lifetime ago (mine in fact) and I loved it. Beautifully staged and acted, showing both interior (on two levels) and exterior action all within the one brilliant set.
I did find it quite difficult to hear from my seat in the slips; since it's set in a club in Soho and there's a lot spirited party atmosphere, I found that following the sparky dialogue proved tricky, especially at the beginning. I'm afraid I think this is my hearing rather than the play though.

Posted on April 21, 2018 at 9:21 AM. Category: Art and Culture.

Friday April 20, 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing


Another pensioners afternoon out at our local village hall.
This is an excellent film worth all the notices. Considering the grim subject matter, the film surprised me with its moderately positive ending - and a lot of (albeit black) humour.

Posted on April 20, 2018 at 11:27 AM. Category: Art and Culture.

Thursday April 12, 2018

The Grinning Man

The Grinning Man artwork.jpg
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

I had pretty low expectations for this - and how wrong I was. It was absolutely wonderful - great music and cast - and turns out it's a cult hit. It's a tragicomic musical based on Victor Hugo's novel L'Homme Qui Ri; premiered at the Bristol Old Vic before transferring to the Trafalgar Studios, (a venue I'm becoming quite fond of), where it's into an extended run.

Posted on April 12, 2018 at 9:22 AM. Category: Art and Culture.

Saturday March 31, 2018

Books in March

  • Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin [Read by James ] BOM-RatherBeTheDevil.jpg
    Another great read from Ian Rankin. Personally I am less keen on plots involving Big Ger - and probably gangsters in general. Maybe I don't like the idea of the one great adversary or nemesis (Moriarty) - more of the "murder in a country house" girl me. But I do like the new character Malcolm Fox - in fact, I think I understand or empathise with him a bit more than with Rebus himself. This book has Rebus (retired...) working with both Siobhan and Fox; I guess Rankin can't do that too often ("the gang's all here") but it works well.

  • The Seagull by Ann Cleeves [read by Janine Birkett] BOM-TheSeagull.jpg
    Apparently only the 8th book about Vera - she seems so alive I imagined there were more. Here we have some of her back story catching up with her. Excellent plotting and writing leaves me quite inclined to read it again.
    The Seagull itself is a night club on the shore - and quite inappropriately, it reminds me of a ... cafe I suppose... on the sea shore where I was brought up called the Mermaid - although comparatively innocent ie not full of drug dealers and murderers, it seemed a very daring place and one which I longed to go to ("going down the Mer"). Once I was old enough to do so, of course, it's flame had dimmed somewhat.
    Note: these faded memories led me on a search on the web looking at old photos of my village in the 1950s and 60s. The Mermaid "Bathing Cafe" was finally demolished about 10 years ago or so - someone provided a picture:


  • Wild Chamber by Christopher Fowler [read by Tim Goodman]
    BOM-B&MWildChamber.jpg Another wonderful story featuring my favourite detectives. It's a sad tale from beginning to end - and perhaps that's only right when dealing with a murder story; I tend to forget this when steeped in the Golden Age Locked Room mystery genre. The title of the book refers to the 17th century name for city parks and gardens, which Arthur explains - to my delight and his colleagues usual degree of exasperation. I actually love CF's use of Arthur as a device to inform on all sorts of fascinating titbits about London - relevant or irrelevant - which clearly interest the author himself (and me), and which he has a need to tell us all about.

  • Dream of Darkness by Reginald Hill writing as Patrick Ruell [read by Sean Barrett]
    BOM-DreamOfDarkness.jpg Although written in 1989, I found it had a rather brittle tone - more 1950s or even earlier. This may have been intentional as the story is about Idi Amin's Uganda - mostly in flashbacks of a kind - so the characters are rather in the vein of old colonials - and "posh" it has to be said. I thought the story was firmly centred on the politics but it turned out to be quite a (albeit melodramatic) thriller. In fact I found the political angle quite interesting as Uganda and Idi were very high focus in my teenage years in the 1970s.

Posted on March 31, 2018 at 9:07 AM. Category: Books of the Month.

Saturday March 24, 2018

Polesden Lacey


Alison and I met up at Polesden Lacey for a "nice day out" - it was a bit wet in fact but that in no way dampened our enjoyment of baked potatoes with tuna mayonnaise and coleslaw, (trip down memory lane from when we first met) followed by cream teas (always a highlight of a National Trust tea room). Not quite as pictured but just as refined....

Posted on March 24, 2018 at 5:54 PM. Category: Days Out.

Friday March 23, 2018

Darkest Hour


I wanted to see this film and George wasn't keen - but he spotted that it was showing in a local village hall thanks to Curzon Country Cinema. We must have lowered the average age by some degree - but we are practising for retirement - and how nice to walk to a local cinema (with a real projectionist!) just like in "the old days".

Posted on March 23, 2018 at 11:28 AM. Category: Art and Culture.

Monday March 19, 2018

Impressionists in London


We all went to Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile (1870-1904), and I think my sister was slightly put out that it wasn't more "impressionistic" in the way we know and love. [Scenes of regattas fringed with bunting as painted by Alfred Sisley and James Tissot in "The Ball on Shipboard" c.1874 are also displayed, demonstrating how British social codes and traditions captured the imagination of the Impressionists at the time] But I really enjoyed the works and the explanations of the apparently slightly risque implications in some of them.


Posted on March 19, 2018 at 11:23 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Sunday March 18, 2018



I'm in Edinburgh for the Yarn Festival. Dorothy, Helen, and I spent a lovely day wallowing in wool. I didn't buy much other than some wool (obviously) from Jamiesons and Jamison and Smith to make the Shetland Baable Hat; the double purchase was my error in - after all this time - not realising they were 2 distinct companies! So I am now committed to making one hat in each colourway. I also bought a couple of skeins to give to Alison (a shawl).


The weather has been pretty bad - blizzard and freezing winds - but we managed to stay snug, eating a step away from the hotel every night in Fishers.

Posted on March 18, 2018 at 11:19 PM. Category: Knitting.

Wednesday February 28, 2018

Books in February

  • Bearded Tit: a love story with feathers by Rory McGrath [read by Rory McGrathBOM-BeardedTit.jpg
    Rob gave me this book for Christmas and I thought "I wonder what Rory has been up to lately" and made the mistake of looking, and finding that there was all kinds of scurrilous detail on the subject available on the internet. This put me off reading it - not by any means because I was disgusted with him but because it made me so deeply sad - especially since (at least part of) the book is about finding his "true love" and of course loves young (old) dream does not always last.
    However, Rob is quite definite that "it's about birds" which is also true - and it's clever and funny and great hearing it read by the author. He needs to write more.

  • Sleeping In The Ground by Peter Robinson [read by Mark Meadows]BOM-SleepingInTheGround.jpg
    This is the 24th (and most current) book in the Inspector Banks series. It was available from the library so I took advantage of the opportunity, although I am trying to read them in order (I'm up to number 10). I've read that you should read them in order, as there are plot spoilers about previous books but I've not noticed this, but as usual, it was a good story well written and I enjoyed it.
    What I did not enjoy was the library software (Ulverscroft) provided on iPad which I used to listen to it. The tracks are simply not played automatically in order, so I had to keep guessing from the wild change in plot line that we had leapt to the wrong place after each chapter. I can find no information or complaints about this online so still wondering if it is "user error". I have to say though that another book I borrowed had a whole chunk missing - so I had to go back to the hard copy book to catch up with the missing plot!

  • A Lesson in Secrets and Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear
    [read by Julie Teal]
    So I have found another mystery series and a new heroine - a whole catalogue of books to mine. I'm not reading these in order but the time line is not hard to follow. I can see that Maisie Dobbs is a bit elitist - or perhaps more exactly improbably privileged - but it serves the basic premise of the books and enables her freedom to be a female detective between the wars. I like (well written) books about this period - which I suppose must be called "historical novels" now, even though I feel they were almost my life and times. As I observed before - the wars seemed within touching distance during my childhood.
    BOM-ALessonInSecrets.jpg BOM-ElegyForEddie.jpg

Posted on February 28, 2018 at 7:22 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Tuesday February 6, 2018



I somehow failed to notice this production - I guess I knew the film from my youth and never watched it (despite its being "acclaimed" - someone experiencing a nervous breakdown on camera never held much appeal). However, Brian Cranstone is another matter - known to and loved by me for his priceless performances in Malcolm in the Middle rather than the more recent and much hyped role in Breaking Bad.
So without much optimism I joined the Friday Rush queues for tickets, and was amazed (really lucky) to actually procure some - for a matinee and which I think must have been top price returns. And what a truly great production it was. Even George was impressed.


Posted on February 6, 2018 at 10:50 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Wednesday January 31, 2018

Books in January

  • Learning to Talk by Hilary Mantel [Read by Patrick Moy, Anna Bentinck, and Jane Collingwood] BOM-LearningToTalk.jpg
    A collection of autobiographically inspired short stories. Poignant and evocative tales of life in the 1950s and 60s.
    • King Billy is aGentleman
    • Curved is the Line of Beauty
    • Learning to Talk
    • Third Floor Rising
    • The Clean Slate

  • Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson [read by Diana Quick]BOM-BehindTheScenesAtTheMuseum.jpg
    Another wonderful chronicle of an extended family. It covers not only the main character's childhood era (1950s) but also the previous generations across two world wars.
    I was originally given her book of short stories, and due to the cover (!) thought she was a chick lit writer. Then I was introduced to her Jackson Brodie novels (and TV series) - and thought she was a crime writer.
    Now - I have thankfully stopped trying to pigeon-hole her and just see her as the excellent writer she undoubtedly is.

  • The Labyrinth of Osiris and The Lost Army of Cambyses by Paul Sussman
    [read by Gordon Griffin]
    BOM-TheLostArmyOfCambyses.jpg BOM-TheLabyrinthOfOsiris.jpg Quite by chance I listened to The Labyrinth of Osiris and was completely hooked. I thought I had found a great new author - only to discover the poor chap was the victim of an untimely death - so 3 books is it (actually there are a couple more but not in this "series").
    I have read them in exactly reverse order - and I think his style (as in: a writer of thrillers - Sussman was a journalist of some standing) improved over the 3 books.
    The books are variously described with comparisons to Dan Brown - which is frankly an insult but I guess gives you a flavour of the content. They are police procedurals set in present day Egypt and Israel but with (in truth unrealistic but made real) new archaeological finds based on references in ancient writings. Sussman has combined his love for archaeology with his day job and produced some great stories.
    Curses that there are no more.

Posted on January 31, 2018 at 4:11 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Sunday January 28, 2018



Alison and I had a day out at the Dulwich Picture Gallery to catch the final day of the Tove Jansson exhibition.
I saw a great documentary about TJ on BBC4 some time ago and it was wonderful the see the actual detailed artwork and working drawings for the sketches. And also of course I read all the books as a small child - which must have been only a short time after they were available in English translations. I read all that were in our local library which was probably only 4 or 5, but apparently there are 9.
Overall it was excellent - and the only minor disappointment was that all the beautiful tiny drawings which we imagined would transfer well to postcards were not available - all posters and prints sold out, unsurprisingly.

They have a really good cafe at the gallery (Dulwich is a very right-on place) where we had both elevenses and (later) a light lunch (despite being initially rather startled by the strength of the black tea).

The excitement of the day was rounded off by going to see The Last Jedi at Kingston Odeon. Nostalgia all round.

Posted on January 28, 2018 at 8:16 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Saturday January 13, 2018



This was a spontaneous booking at a very low price which tempted me - I wanted to see it for the inventive direction and puppetry - I had not checked but it is in fact a musical and did (to my delight) include the familiar songs I had hoped for - specifically "An Actors Life for Me" - and Mr Fox was also terrific. The seats were right at the front of the stalls - temporary seating I'm guessing - presumably thought to be not ideal with the way the production is staged (giant puppets) and hence they are offered at such bargain prices. However I absolutely love being close to the stage and enjoyed the whole thing very much.

Posted on January 13, 2018 at 9:13 AM. Category: Art and Culture.

Saturday January 6, 2018



Always worth seeing the imaginative Matthew Bourne shows - this one had many plus points for originality, being set in WW2 and with not only a wicked step-mother and 2 ugly sisters but also 2 ugly brothers (one with a shoe fetish).
The only thing I was not so keen on was the fairy godfather. I liked the concept but his silver outfit/hair etc reminded me (being that old) too much of the ancient TV series UFO, and although he was a terrific dancer, I was not keen on the choreographic style he was given. In fact I found him rather sinister, but I am not sure how much that in itself was a detractor - maybe the opposite. I did like the implication at the end that he helped other down trodden maidens and not just Cinderella.

The truth is I was spoiled with Swan Lake all those years ago, and more recently with Edward Scissorhands and then the fantastic Carman. He set the bar very high.


Posted on January 6, 2018 at 9:15 AM. Category: Art and Culture.