Forget Her Maj – gawd bless ‘er – celebrating her platinum jubilee: if I’m seemingly incommunicado this weekend it’s because the better half and I will be marking our golden wedding anniversary with some of our extended family, and will thus be otherwise engaged … but I shall be back in due course!
Foraging for food for thought
We’re just about at the end of a few days break in Bristol and, pending a book review, I’m just posting a few items of bookish news for now.
First off, in between visits to friends and old haunts I’ve taken in a few bookshops. Let me list them: one Oxfam bookshop, The Last Bookshop (which, paradoxically, was the first one I went to on a second outing), a second Oxfam bookshop, and Bristol’s remaining Waterstones — it used to have three — or, as I still prefer to think of it, Waterstone’s.
Also, since I’m currently rereading Diana Wynne Jones’s Archer’s Goon, I revisited some Bristol sites that I’m certain inspired a few of the fictional places in the fantasy. After a review I shall be putting together a few photos and speculations for a related post.Continue reading “Foraging for food for thought”
Five fowl vignettes
1. A foul fowl
Our son came to visit us at our former Welsh farmhouse, at a time when we kept hens and a cockerel. We were out at the time, but when we returned he told us how entertained he’d been by a particular hen we’d recently acquired: she’d been strutting around on her own, as was her habit, ejaculating what sounded like a sneezed obscenity at intervals, and that had had him in stitches. Oh, we said, that’ll be Fuckit!
Characters with theatrical jobs
As you know I tend not to do weekly or other regular bookish memes, but here’s a spin on one I couldn’t resist, especially as it related to Lory’s prompt Reading the Theatre. It’s posed by Helen of She Reads Novels and this is how she introduced her recent post:
“This week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl) is “Characters Whose Job I Wish I Had”. As Jana says we can put our own unique spin on each topic and as I wanted to join in with Lory’s Reading the Theatre month, I have chosen ten characters who have jobs connected with acting and the theatre. These are not all jobs I would like to have myself, but some of them sound fun!”
So, without much further ado here’s my take on Helen’s take; quotes (with links) are from my reviews.
Turn, turn, turn
“To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose
As we drift past Imbolc and Candlemas, halfway points between the midwinter solstice and the spring equinox, I have been considering how season-centred some of my recent reading has been. And even my current read, Le Guin’s Malafrena, has so far been calibrated by principal periods of the year, especially the long hot summers and the winter feasts.
It might be an interesting exercise to consider how much fiction relies on not just space — and I’ll discuss this a bit more presently — but on the passage of time, especially certain liminal occasions; for, let’s face it, every moment is a liminal experience, balanced on a fulcrum of the present, between past and future, and frequently fraught with promise and danger.
Blogging and lockdown
Blogging for me (and maybe for you too) has been a saving grace for the last year and especially during lockdowns. Much social media has been awash with political indignation, pandemic worries and personal tragedies, but having an outlet focused on books has been one positive thing to look forward to and think about, largely because it is so concerned with creativity.
Having a book blogging community has therefore been a real boon, else it would have been calling into a void with only one’s own echoes coming back. I’m so grateful, thank you all, and I hope I have been able to perform a similar service back to all of you.
But I also know that fatigue can hit, as some of you have been posting, all while we individually try to cope with sustained levels of anxiety and stress caused by outside factors. And some of you have indicated that you’ve needed to take a break from a demanding schedule of writing and posting. I think I may be approaching that point.
Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, they say. Minutiae aims to start small but to then to branch out over time. Do please follow its progress, starting today, 1st January 2020: all photos mine except where stated.
While MyNewShy will still be live I shan’t be posting further photos there (it’s 99% full at the last count)—but the mix will be much the same!
May I wish you the very best for 2020, and may it bring us what we want for the world and what it needs
Whale of a time
In just a few days it’ll be time for Witch Week, but right now I want to look forward to a little beyond that. I’ve begun one particular classic a couple of times now, but was never quite in the right frame of mind for it.
But it’s a shame to let 2019 go without giving it another try. Why? Because its author was born exactly two hundred years ago, and because Moby-Dick is bruited to be more than a simple tale of a doomed quest. So, along with fellow blogger Lizzie Ross, I shall once again begin at the beginning.
But first, I shall now glance back at works I have read (links are to my reviews) that could almost have been preparations for this adventure, volumes that have owed a part of their existence to this great whale of a tale.
Alive with the sound
As many know, Crickhowell in Wales was recently named as the Best Place to Live in Wales by The Sunday Times (as well as being awarded the accolade of UK’s Best High Street).
What better time then for this small market town to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Crickhowell Music Festival, the main events of which took place in St Edmunds Church approached, appropriately, from the High Street down Silver Street.
Under the inspired musical direction of conductor Stephen Marshall since the festival began, its main event in 1995 was a semi-dramatised performance of Purcell’s masque The Fairy Queen; and this was a work the Choral Society chose to repeat in this special year, along with Bach’s magnificent B minor Mass. Bookending these performances were a recital given by the choir’s young choral scholars and other young musicians and, as a finale, a rousing concert by Welsh folk band ALAW, both in the town’s Clarence Hall.
As a marriage of words and music it seems an apt event to note here on this bookish blog written by a classically trained musician…
The meming of things
If you read my posts on a regular basis you will know this face applies to me. It’s fairly likely it applies to you too. The possibility that anybody who is a bibliophile — a bibliomane, even — recognises this reaction is high. That’s the power of the meme.
Memes might seem a new thing but they’ve been around a long time, certainly long before Richard Dawkins defined them in The Selfish Gene (1976) as a unit of cultural information, one spread by imitation and, like genes, subject to evolution and mutation.
So when I recently had a till receipt from a Waterstone’s bookshop I was quite taken by the meme included on the print out.
They say money can’t buy happiness, but I have a receipt from the bookstore telling a whole different story.
As with many memes, the ultimate genesis of which it’s almost impossible to identify, I wasn’t able to find a quoted source, but from the use of the term ‘bookstore’ I’m assuming it’ll be North American. But I liked its quiet wit: not only can buying books be a fountainhead of pleasure, but the notion that even a bookshop receipt is able to tell a story gave rise to a small smile.Continue reading “The meming of things”
Seven Year Hitch
This month, April 2019, sees seven years of the Calmgrove blog since I hitched it to WordPress (although I’ve since reposted revisions of some of those early posts and deleted others).
Now, it was a score or so of years ago that I started hearing more and more about weblogs appearing online. My first instinct had been to think it ridiculous for people to put out personal diaries into the ether: whoever would want to read about the lives of random strangers?