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Archive Entries for July 2020

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Friday July 31, 2020

Books in July

  • Autumn by Ali Smith [read by Melody Grove ]
    BOM-Autumn.jpg This is a wonderful book. I did not rush into reading it as I expected it to be a work of mind-expanding well-written prose and thus a worthy but difficult read - well it was the former but not the latter. The writer wanted to explore how we experience time - which is wholly subjective and a topic that has often interested me. I'm a hopeless descriptive writer so read the Guardian review. In terms of its intellectual content - it raised my curiosity to go and find out more about sixties pop-artist Pauline Boty - and look at her work (on line); I had never heard of her, and, while I am not the world's greatest culture vulture, I think that underlines just one of the many points that Smith was making. [Her character's attempts to have a typically misogynistic art school lecturer accept Boty as a subject for a dissertation seem to me to hint at personal experience].
    As is often the case, I listened to this book and the language is so beautiful, it really lent itself to being spoken aloud and Melody Grove did so perfectly (melodically). There were many political views expressed which resonated with me and some reflective passages with lyrical repetitive almost poetry that I found both sharp and moving:
    All across the country, people felt it was the wrong thing. All across the country, people felt it was the right thing. All across the country, people felt they'd really lost. All across the country, people felt they'd really won. All across the country, people felt they'd done the right thing and other people had done the wrong thing.....
    ....All across the country, people felt legitimised. All across the country, people felt bereaved and shocked. All across the country, people felt righteous. All across the country, people felt sick. All across the country, people felt history at their shoulder. All across the country, people felt history meant nothing. All across the country, people felt like they counted for nothing. All across the country, people had pinned their hopes on it.

  • Meet Me/Murder/Missing/Midnight (all) In Malmo
    by Torquil MacLeod [Read by Marguerite Gavin]
    I have considered before that it may be wrong of me to judge a book solely on the basis of its delivery in the spoken word. I have been aware that a good narrator can really alter the perception of a story from ordinary to outstanding, by almost acting quality narrators such as Christian Rodska, or Mark Billingham - and also, of course, some books are better suited to being read aloud than others, such as The Moonstone (which is written, and delivered, in different voices); a number of books have the benefit of being read by their authors, which means they are spoken in the way they were intended by the author, such as Helen Macdonald, or Rory McGrath. Sadly, this was not the case with these books and negatively influenced my whole perception of them.
    They are defnitely good mystery stories with a plausibly written heroine detective which realistically describes her home and working life and relationships, but any proper judgement of their worth was hindered in the extreme by the narration. Often, while listening through the peculiar pronunciations and incorrect stressing, I felt the language would have been much more natural and realistic if being read on the page. As it was, it sounded like it was being read by someone for whom English was not her first language, practicing for an elocution exam. On top of the issues with the straight reading of the English, the narrator was called upon to - or felt bound to - try and deliver both Scottish and Jordy acccents which is a tall order for any actor, and what she came up with would have been funny if not so annoying.
    Although this is very damning, I see (frankly, to my amazement) that Marguerite Gavin has won various awards for her narrations and "disappears as the narrator, letting the story take the limelight" - which I suppose is true in that she added nothing - especially in terms of delivering dialogue with any realistic intonation. However it seems my opinions are not shared by all in that she has a "devoted fan following". All I can say in her favour is that her voice is pleasant, ("sonorous" apparently), and her diction is very clear, so it might suit listeners for whom English is not their first language.

    BOM-MeetMeInMalmo.jpg BOM-MurderInMalmo.jpg BOM-MissingInMalmo.jpg BOM-MidnightInMalmo.jpg

  • BillNighy.jpg A Doubtful Death
    Return of the loveably louche actor-cum-amateur detective: to his horror, Charles has landed a role, in a re-imagining of Hamlet in an immersive production by a high-concept theatre group in Oxford. When the actress playing Ophelia goes missing, in between rehearsals with puppeteers and mime artists, Charles decides to find out what has happened to her.
    Based on Simon Brett's novel, once again brilliantly adapted by Jeremy Front, and starring Bill Nighy, Suzanne Burden, Jon Glover, Jessica Turner, Scarlett Courtney, Ian Conningham, Will Kirk, and Lucy Reynolds. Directed by Sally Avens.

Posted on July 31, 2020 at 11:04 AM. Category: Books of the Month. | Comments (0)

Friday July 17, 2020

Kaffe's Baby Pyramid Quilt


With more time on my hands, I am slowly digging through all my "started but not finished" projects of the past 20 (and more) years, and thus rekindled an interest in patchwork. I have a couple of would-be quilts with a large part of the donkey work complete - more on that later - but because of a new baby in the family I decided to continue a cot quilt which, in my head at least, I started sewing in about 2002; the pattern is included in the second Rowan Westminster Quilting Book from that era.
My idea had been to work on it slowly with hand quilting (easily transportable while travelling to and from France) but in fact, I had done little more than collect the fabrics I needed, so I started from scratch with paper-piecing the tiny triangles. I was planning to use the small left-overs from other Rowan projects and I squeezed in as many as I could find in my box, but I was missing a few key fabric designs which are no longer available and had to substitute - a skill I am not good at, but needs must...

You can see the patchwork is firmly underway during lockdown on a sunny day in the garden.

Posted on July 17, 2020 at 11:48 AM. Category: Quilting. | Comments (0)

A Walk on the Common


Rob came over for a walk - best described in pictures - it was a lovely day.


He was delighted by the nesting skylarks, though they proved tricky to capture from a distance on camera.



This was my highlight of a discovery - a plant I had neither noticed nor heard of before. It was pretty obvious among the other "dandelion" type plants as it had relatively huge clocks - and on close examination, any remaining flower heads were firmly closed up, illustrating its name "Jack Go to Bed at Noon" since they apparently only open in the morning sun. [I would say, I went out subsequently in early morning sun but the flowers never opened for me... but the clocks really are lovely - I tried to grow a seed at home but an enterprising bird plucked it out and ate it - I have my suspicions...].


Despite my ignorance, it's famous enough to have its own flower fairy.


I'll be asleep by noon!
Though bedtime comes so soon,
I'm busy too.
Twelve puffs!--and then from sight
I shut my flowers tight;
Only by morning light
They're seen by you.
Then, on some day of sun,
They'll open wide, each one,
As something new!
Shepherd, who minds his flock,
Calls it a Shepherd's Clock,
Though it can't say "tick-tock"
As others do!

Finally, we returned, and sat socially distanced in the garden eating lunch, and watching "the workers" painting the exterior of the house.


Posted on July 17, 2020 at 9:04 AM. Category: Staying at Home. | Comments (0)

Sunday July 12, 2020



I toured the local nurseries (limited opening) looking for rockery plants - but found virtually none. However, the few scruffy plants I did find were massively discounted and soon felt better when installed in their new homes.
Small beginnings.

[Lockdown has had a big impact on nurseries, even though they have been able to open to some degree (given that they are often outdoors), and despite there being a great domestic demand as "stay at home" people work on their gardens (if they are lucky enough to have them). However the supply chain has been totally disrupted; cancellations of the big RHS shows had led (frustratingly) to masses of plants available at the wrong time and unable to be sold.]

Posted on July 12, 2020 at 10:04 AM. Category: The Garden. | Comments (0)