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Archive Entries for November 2020

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Friday November 13, 2020

Books in November

  • The Last Protector by Andrew Taylor [Read by Leighton Pugh]
    BOM-TheLastProtector.jpg The is the latest in the Ashes of London series for which I've been impatiently waiting to be released in audio format. The Firecourt (second in the series) was the recommendation by a Guardian reviewer that drew this series to my attention and I have been a committed follower of Cat Lovett and James Marwood ever since. Our heroes have not seen each other for some good time. Cat is now married and relatively secure - but her husband is increasingly ill in mind as well as body, which makes things very hard for their business. James is seeing some success with his career but is constantly treading on eggshells to try to please (or at least not displease) two masters. Both are unwillingly drawn into Cromwellian family schemes which could easily see them branded as traitors in their world full of hopeless political intrigue - especially given their own family backgrounds.

  • Mary Russell's War by Laurie R King
    [Readers: Susan Bennett, John Keating, Robert Ian Mackenzie, and Jenny Sterlin]
    BOM-MaryRussellsWar.jpg A collection of 9 short stories, filling in gaps in the narrative of the full novels, starting with England's declaration of war in 1914. Narratives are in various voices - some first and some third person.
    Like many other readers (I discovered) I had a probem with the story set in 1992 where Holmes is apparently still living. When I say I had a "problem" with it - I like the idea that the author blazes away with her story without any reguard for a "real" time line, and on the whole I think prefer it to the concept that Holmes at any point leaves the history for good (given that this is all fiction); the problem I had was thinking that I must be making a fundamental error in my continual internal mental calculations. The author's only answer to the question "how is he still alive and kicking in 1992?" is "this is one of the Great Mysteries of the Russell memoirs" - a delightful answer I think.
    • "Appreciation" by noted Sherlockian Leslie S Klinger
    • Mary's Christmas - with Mary's Uncle Jake
    • Mary Russell's War
    • Beekeeping for Beginners
    • Mrs Hudson's Case
    • The Marriage of Mary Russell
    • Birth of a Green Man
    • A Venomous Death
    • My Story
    • A Case in Correspondence
    • Stately Holmes

  • Killing with Confetti by Peter Lovesey [read by Peter Wickham] BOM-KillingWithConfetti.jpg
    Entertaining enough Peter Diamond novel although I was not wild about the construction of the tale. There's a lengthy description of a wedding with all the detail of the endless waiting (to be fed) while the happy couple get the all important photos out of the way, plus the overexcited and bored bridesmaids - which is all so true to life that it's as tedious as the real thing. I think it's supposed to build tension but despite everything I never felt at any point that anyone was in danger.

  • Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh BOM-FiftyFifty.jpg
    Cleverly constructed crime/courtroom drama about two sisters both claiming to be innocent (and thereby by implication accusing each other) of murdering their Father.
    For me, this book is reminiscent of the 1946 film The Dark Mirror with Olivia de Havilland playing twin sisters, one of whom is known to have committed murder, and the other has an alibi. In that case neither sister is willing to turn on the other, so the police are unable to prosecute.
    In this book the DA prosecutes both sisters together knowing he will secure a conviction against one or other of the sisters, if not both acting together. But which is guilty?

  • Paul Temple and the Gilbert Case by Francis Durbridge
    BOM-SulivanMystery.jpg Just as Paul and Steve are about to go on holiday, Wilfred Stirling visits with a plea. His daughter Brenda was recently murdered, her body dumped on a bomb site. Her boyfriend Howard Gilbert, seen walking away from the site, has been convicted of the murder and sentenced to hang - but Brenda's father feels sure he didn't do it.. (despite having giving damnig evidence at the trial!).
    Stars (the best Paul and Steve), Peter Coke and Majorie Westbury, in an original 1950s recording.
    I thought I had hoovered up all the available Paul Temple dramas but I seem to have missed this one, although all the business with the shoes seemed vaguely familiar.
    >>Spoiler alert <<
    Each missing shoe on a murder victim is supposed to be due to the fact that something was hidden there - but I would question how the murderer knew which shoe to take? It might have been prudent to snag both while you were at it - no?

  • BillNighy.jpg A Reconstructed Corpse
    Bill Nighy once again as the dipsomaniac, philandering actor. Happy enough to take on a job as the "lookalike" in a crime reconstruction programme investigating a missing person case. An all expenses paid trip to Brighton as part of the deal seems an ideal opportunity to celebrate his wedding anniversary and reconcile with Frances. But Charles soon uncovers a grizzly murder - and not perhaps the corpse we were expecting...
    Based on Simon Brett's novel, once again brilliantly adapted by Jeremy Front.

Posted on November 13, 2020 at 3:43 PM. Category: Books of the Month. | Comments (0)

Thursday November 5, 2020

Vision Realised


This is another example of "because I can".
Above is a sewing-needle case I made for my Mother when I was about 6 years old. We were offered different ready-cut felt shapes to decorate and sew together with blanket stitch. It seems I even then had a leaning towards the "Grand Project" - and visualised something covered in gold and sequins - probably like the palace at Versaillle in my minds eye (or would have been if indeed I had ever heard of it). I seem to remember my teacher taking a dim view of (and preventing) my taking all the gold sequins I felt were essential.
Surprisingly, (to me), the case was much used, and I inherited it - and (again, surprisingly) have continued to use it. The last sequin fell off recently, much of the stitched edging had worn away, and it was in a very dirty and altogether sorry state. So I thought I would do my own "Repair Shop" renovation, (necessitating strong emotions and tearfulness, while showing myself the excessive appreciation I deserve - all in the privacy of my own house).

I carefully removed what was left of the worn stitching (some was still OK), washed and dried the outer felt, and replaced the crumbled inner cardboard, before carefully restitching it all together, following the pin holes of my original work. I had to buy sequins (not a stock item for me - and hard to obtain at a reasonable price in the right size, quantity, and colour), and replace the embroidery where it had worn away.
I can't say if the result is as it was: the overall size is slightly smaller (slight felt shrinkage with washing), but I did use all the evidence to put the decorations back where they were originally.

Of course, this entry would be more interesting with a "before" picture as well as the "after" but as it is you'll have to use your imagination.

Posted on November 5, 2020 at 9:12 AM. Category: Crafts. | Comments (0)

Tuesday November 3, 2020



I was inspired by Kaffe's lecture - and truth be told, simply by Kaffe himself - to try and make something of, (or complete), a piece of patchwork I started when I was at college.

At that time, I did a great deal of sewing, making most of my own clothes. And being one for the "Grand Project" I decided to use remnants to start on a lifetime project of an English paper-pieced hexagon scrap quilt such as I had seen in museums. What you see above is as far as it got. By the time it hibernated I was thinking on a smaller scale and decided I might make it into a kind of mob cap shower hat - but it needed to be slightly bigger.

Roll forward half a century, and I ran across the little package above (complete with a reel of tacking cotton and a needle) and took a photo to chuckle over, and sent it to my friend in Canada - we had met in Cambridge in 2016 and subsequently joined forces at the NEC Quilt Show that summer.

This tiny work had originally lived with all my scraps from that era, but at some point in time I passed the bag of scraps (sans hexagons) on to my then teenage step-daughter as she had an interest in using them to make bags. I never realised until this year, when they emerged from deep cover, that they had clearly been passed back to me at some point. And this was enough to inspire me to take up the baton again for the Grand Project.

I completed the last round of the original shape and then planned out a quilt to cover a blanket - a loosely woven packing blanket, thus continuing the "recycle and re-use" concept. I need 18 roundels, which is pretty daunting, especially since - once complete - they each need to be surrounded by a common background colour. However, I have completed 10 of them in a relatively short time, so I am hopeful it might finally become a proper quilt.


You can see I have been able to find many of the original scraps to make the centres of each shape look the same, gradually getting more free format as I work outwards on each one. I have to say they are not colours I would choose in designing a quilt today, but it has been such a delight remembering each fabric, and what clothes I made from them when I was in my early 20s.

Posted on November 3, 2020 at 10:57 AM. Category: Quilting. | Comments (0)