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Thursday December 29, 2022

Christmas Jigsaws


Today I completed my cat jigsaw, which was a Christmas present from Rob. It's very pretty, and an absolutely exquisitely made item - each piece made of thick wood in a unique shape - some of the shapes are identifiable as other objects - an anchor, squirrel etc. This made it quite difficult but then also a bit easier as well.... (work that out).
Alongside this, we started our new Mike Wilks jigsaw: "A".

Posted on December 29, 2022 at 6:16 PM. Category: Staying at Home. | Comments (0)

Sunday December 25, 2022



Posted on December 25, 2022 at 6:41 PM. Category: Red Letter Days. | Comments (0)

Wednesday November 30, 2022

Books in November

  • An Air That Kills Andrew Taylor [read by Philip Franks]
    BOM-AnAirThatKills.jpg Suffering from deprivation of Marwood and Lovett, I decided to try a previous series - removed from the Ashes of London by a couple of hundred years. Anyway, I love it so much, I think I can now count Andrew Taylor as one of my new favourite authors.
    The Lydmouth books were written in the 1990s - much earlier in Taylor's writing career. They are set post-WW2 in a very clearly described period of change. Our protagonists are a policeman new to the area, and a young "career woman" - both of them have similar issues in finding their places not only in the local community but also in society in general. Those who used to be controlling forces in village life, ex-military officers, those with titles, landowners etc while not the force they once were (many in reduced financial circumstances), still believe they can exert influence and attempt to enforce their views on "the lower orders". Policemen (especially in-comers), and women, should know their place.
    These two - similar to Marwood and Lovett - do not really have any kind of relationship in the book - just more of an interaction. Their lives are described essentially separately, which I particularly like. (They do not develop into Steed and Mrs Peel).
    I was so enamoured of the book that I immediately wanted to move on to the next in the series. However, one thing I enjoyed was that the story is set in November, and the description of the weather and so on are totally in keeping with the time in which I am reading it. The next book seems to be set in June, so I am going to defer reading it until the season turns....!
    Other readers like me, moving on from the 18th century stories, have mentioned finding it disappointing - but far from it for me. I think perhaps they liked the "Georgette Heyer" model of historical novels, unfavourably comparing the dismal backdrop of the 1950's and the not-always-likeable characters. However, I am fascinated by this period and feel he writes about it, and the people living in it with great realism and perception. [One reader says they prefer the "historical" novels which made me smile as I need to point out that although it's also only yesterday to me, the 1950's are three-quarters of a century ago...].

  • The Cat Who Caught a Killer by L T Shearer
    BOM-TheCatWhoCaughtAKiller.jpg If you love cats and the so-called cosy crime genre (as I do) you will enjoy this book. It's not a demanding read and would provide perfect travel reading - especially if you were off for a weekend in London, as the protagonist (Lulu) lives on a canal boat and so the book includes picturesque descriptions of, and information about, the area around Little Venice.
    As many other readers have commented, the calico cat of the title does somewhat steal the show, and since it is revealed in the opening pages, I don't think it's a spoiler to say that the cat has the power of human speech. "Conrad" as Lulu names him, is not at all twee, but rather a sensible, down-to-earth and serious character - and despite there being no real hint of this in the text, I was also driven to wonder if his vocalisations were more an expression of Lulu's loneliness after the loss of her husband, since (again realistically) no-one else ever hears anything other than cat language. However, despite never hearing Conrad speak in actual words, all the other human characters are immediately captivated when they meet him - as I'm sure you will be too.

    [Although this book is definitely not a comedy, I could not help but be reminded of Lynne Truss's hilarious books about the Evil Talking Cats (ETCs). (Note: Conrad is definitely not one of those).]

  • Trueman-Riley.jpg Trueman and Riley
    Two bickering detectives solve Yorkshire's trickiest cases. The duo began life in a BBC Radio 4 play in 2002, with DI Trueman called back to work after a nervous breakdown in order to solve a high profile murder case, backed up by Detective Superintendent Riley. This was followed by three further crime dramas in 2005.
    I thought this was an excellent radio drama series, with short episodes, involving amusing and interesting yet everyday police cases. I listened to all 3 series and a prequel. It's presented in the highly professional manner heard in the early radio dramas (before TV) with a minimal cast used to great effect. The actors work well together seemingly with real rapport - as do the characters they depict.
    Robert Daws and Duncan Preston - both exceedingly well known actors from TV - star as Trueman and Riley, and the director is Toby Swift.

Posted on November 30, 2022 at 12:37 PM. Category: Books of the Month. | Comments (0)

Thursday November 17, 2022



Poignantly sad - as we have to accept with Kazuo Ishiguro - but ultimately uplifting.
A civil servant in post-war London lives a humdrum life, but is motivated to carry through a small project at work which makes a real change. This apparently makes a deep impression on his colleagues; however, sadly, it does not seem to have a lasting effect... As the reviewers say, it's a part tailor-made for Bill Nighy.

I must say that the working environment in the "planing office" strongly reminded me of my (short) time working for the British Rail property department. Some considerable time later than "post-war" but still working with Dickensian ledgers, and the culture largely unchanged.

Posted on November 17, 2022 at 6:22 PM. Category: Art and Culture. | Comments (0)

Wednesday November 16, 2022

Christmas Cactus


They are lovely but they've gone off a bit early....
[..so not only not a Cactus but but also not Christmas]
You can see my original one (bottom right) is traumatised but still hanging in there and even has a few flowers.


Posted on November 16, 2022 at 4:10 PM. Category: The Garden. | Comments (0)

Monday October 31, 2022

Books in October

  • Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
    BOM-DemonCopperhead.jpg Wonderful, classic Kingsolver in that it gently weaves the big issues (here it's opioid over-prescription and the 'left behind sections dividing American society) into a gripping roller-coaster of a story. Loosely based on Dickens' David Copperfield, it is narrated by a poor child from a trailer park in rural Virginia. Initially looked after by neighbours, later disastrously fostered and abused, little wonder he makes a lot of bad choices through his own inexperience.
    It's funny, poignant, page-turning dramatic, and eventually uplifting as the decent humans on the fringe of his life, who have tried in their humble way to offer him better choices and foster his talents, see him move into adulthood with more options than he ever imagined. A picture of rural America that pulls you in and stays with you.
    Can't recommend it highly enough.

  • Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham [read by Maxine Peake]
    BOM-RabbitHole.jpg This is a stand-alone novel and as usual with this author it's a very imaginative treatment for a murder investigation, and it's skilfully written. Usually with his stand-alone novels I am at first resistant, (as there's no DI Thorne - which is odd in itself as I don't find Thorne a very sympathetic hero); but then, I'm quickly drawn into the story and completely won over. Often I find putting aside a known character refreshes both reader and author as he has a renewed sense of freedom in his subject.
    Sadly though, with this book I found that, fond as I am of both author (and narrator), I did not enjoy it as much as some of his others (eg Rush of Blood and Die of Shame). However, I'm very happy to acknowledge that in this case, my lack of enjoyment seems to be wholly to do with personal taste rather than any shortcomings in the narrative.
    The story is told in the voice of an ex-DC, Alice - and we already have a certain element of "the unreliable narrator" at play because Alice has been committed to a psychiatric hospital after a breakdown following an "incident" involving the death of a colleague. After one of the other inmates is found dead, Alice is determined to find the killer, and is certain the police investigation cannot succeed without her help...

Posted on October 31, 2022 at 12:05 PM. Category: Books of the Month. | Comments (0)

Wednesday October 19, 2022

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris


Just been to a "proper" matinee performance (ie - in the morning!) at the Everyman - Lesley Manville and lots of dresses - a sheer delight.

In passing, I have also noticed that there is a 1992 "TV movie" which would be fun to see in memory of Angela Lansbury (Mrs 'Arris) - in which I fervently hope she gives centre stage to her astonishing cockney accent, which I experienced in a rather peculiar episode of Murder She Wrote, set in London [1987 It Runs in the Family].


This version of Mrs 'Arris also stars Omar Sharif, apparently, where presumably any kind of vaguely foreign accent will do for a Frenchman (I say all this with much affection - and, after all, I may be wrong...).

Posted on October 19, 2022 at 4:05 PM. Category: Art and Culture. | Comments (0)