Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Of course, I don't watch daytime television. But a Cary Grant film at 11am is a treat not to be missed.
So I kept my eye on the clock.
Unfortunately, I kept my eye on the clock that I'd forgotten to put forward on Saturday night.
Never mind. I'd seen that movie before.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

I couldn't step over three rain-sodden camellias lying on the pavement. So I took them home and floated them in a bowl on my windowsill.
But why is it, that when other people do this it looks like a minimalist Japanese flower arrangment?
And when I do it, it's three soggy blossoms in a pie-dish?

Monday, 29 March 2010

I don't think I'll ever be wholeheartedly a fan of Ian McEwan so I had to run myself a bubble bath and sit in the tub to force myself to finish The Innocent for this month's bookgroup.
It's not what I'd call a subtle East-West spy thriller, as it says on the jacket. Far from it. Give me John le Carre any day, especially a Cold War John le Carre. And then if I get into the bath, it's to shut out the world because I can't put him down.
Mostly when I read Ian McEwan, I tell myself that I won't bother again. But my bookgroup is very keen on him.
They are sniffy about le Carre. They don't know what they're missing.
I was very careful with Ian in the bubbles. (I hope he liked the scent. It was Molton Brown's Warming Eucalyptus, nothing too girly.)
Because unfortunately Willa Cather's Archbishop was drenched in a bathroom tsunami not very long ago.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Christen Købke was the son of a master baker. He painted luminous skies and reddening sunsets.
But when he painted a street scene, you can peep through sparkling Danish windows to see geraniums in pots on the windowsill.
He didn't stray far from home and he painted people and places that he loved. (When he went to Italy, his paintings become much less interesting.) He painted his mother, who had 11 children. And he painted his friend, with whom he shared a studio. I'd like to think that had he born in this century, he'd have known how to upload pictures in the right order.
One of the portraits I loved best was done for the mother of a friend who was going abroad to study; she disapproved of her son smoking, and so Købke painted him chewing on a rose instead of his pipe. You can almost hear the two boys laughing at the joke of it and a mother laughing and crying at the same time.
As the National Gallery was closing, I stood for a moment looking at the rainy sky over Trafalgar Square. It was a Købke kind of evening.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Some bloggers blog about their lunches. A sliver of something organic from their local farmers' market. A handful of salad leaves from their allotment. Homemade sourdough bread.
But let's hear it for those other other bloggers who lunch on hot-cross buns and Divine white chocolate with strawberries.
We're shameless - but we're still hungry.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The girl two rows in front of me here was wearing a fox-print dress. How chic is that at a performance of The Cunning Little Vixen?
And I wondered if she had other outfits to match the rest of the opera repertoire?
The Little Vixen is a feisty minx and this is absolutely the right opera for spring.
What could be nicer on a sunny Sunday morning than a ride on the London Eye?
Followed by a quick Tube and bus ride to Columbia Road Market.
Where two big bunches of tulips and two shocking pink primulas in pots cost the enormous sum of £3. And the scent of hyacinths and narcissi and mimosa filled the air.
This left plenty to spare for a dainty rose-petal-sprinkled chocolate cupcake and a cup of builders' tea here.
Of course, had I kept my nerve, I could have bought even bigger and lovelier bunches of tulips just before the market packed up.
You have to time it just right. But isn't it nice to think that, all over London tonight, the girlfriend of the young man who bought the enormous bunch of mauve tulips, and the black lady who bought two huge bouquets of orange flowers, and the two young girls who chose blue irises and snow-white lisianthus, are all loving their flowers and thinking how nice it is that it's spring.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

If I don't start soon to prepare fat Toulouse sausages and Jerusalem artichokes for a casserole from Nigel Slater's book Tender, it'll be tomorrow's dinner, not tonight's.
But it wouldn't be the first time that's happened.
Sadly, only a few crumbs are left in the cake-tin from Nigel's delicious, sticky double ginger cake from Kitchen Diaries.
Surely I can't have eaten all of it?

Friday, 19 March 2010

And there I was thinking that Mrs Miniver would approve of my new abode in this peaceful cul-de-sac without any blog traffic ... when, lo and behold, I have a Follower. This, I think, qualifies me as a Real Blogger. But would Mrs Miniver approve of Followers? I feel like a housemaid entertaining gentleman-callers below stairs.
So say hello to Hannah ... whose new blog is so much more stylish than mine.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

O luck husband blest of heavn
To thee the privlege is given
A much lovd wife at home to keep
Caress touch talk to - even sleep
Thrice happy mortal envied lot
What a rare treasure thou hast got
Who to a woman can lay claim
Whos tempers evry day the same.

This made me laugh when I saw it at the V&A's quilts exhibition. Did Elizabeth Chapman, tongue-in-cheek, stitch it into the quilt that commemorated her 1829 marriage to John, to remind him what a lucky man he was? In fact the ditty relates to a scandal about a London dentist who had his dead wife embalmed and displayed in his parlour, charging visitors to come and see her ... so that's why her temper never changed. Did Elizabeth Chapman have a black sense of humour to stitch this into her wedding quilt? Or maybe she came across the verse without knowing its macabre source.
The historic quilts in the exhibition are a delight. (The picture isn't from the Chapman quilt, but from another of my favourites.) Beside them, unfortunately, most of the contemporary quilts look utterly banal; the gentle art of quilting has become shouty and strident ... and who wants to be harangued by a bedspread with attitude!
I can barely thread a needle but it seems that all sorts of people are quilting today. I got chatting to a retired policeman (how scary is that, when even retired policemen are looking young?) and he told me that he started quilting to relax from a stressful job on a murder force.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

I'm still reeling having finished Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop only this morning.
And this is a statue of the real Bishop of New Mexico whom she barely disguised in the novel. Is it a novel? ... Cather called it a 'narrative' and it unfolds slowly, as time does in real life, the little events carrying as much weight as more dramatic ones.
I'm glad that I've only recently discovered Willa Cather; I don't think I would have appreciated books like this and The Professor's House when I was younger. All I can say is that they are masterpieces. She writes with the force of a man and the sensitivity of a woman. And now I want to visit New Mexico. As I was reading, I was picturing Georgia O'Keeffe's landscapes, carnelian-red hills and parched bones.

'Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky. The landscape one longed for when one was far away, the thing all about one, the world one actually lived in, was the sky, the sky!'
Very amused to see that there's a new shop in Birmingham called Mrs Miniver's Boutique. I'm very taken by the vintage sailor dress on their website. Mrs Miniver's Daughter, sadly, doesn't have the waistline for it.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Why is the modern ladybird such a thug? I wouldn't begrudge one coming in for a warm, but a dozen on one windowpane is gang warfare.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

I shouldn't have picked the snowdrops; they looked lovelier yesterday on the riverbank than today wilting in a vase.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

So is it going to be a blog about books? Maybe.
Or maybe it should be a blog about Life.
I read somewhere, about blogging, that nobody wants to know what you had for lunch. Good, because I didn't have any lunch today.
Although, actually, I quite like knowing what people eat and what kind of cakes they make. Especially the cakes.

But today I had an afternoon out. Ham House is a cold and gloomy place but its red brick glowed in the setting sun as I was leaving. Walking along the riverbank, I picked a small bunch of muddy snowdrops.

When I got home, the first vase of daffodils had popped open.

But it was far too late to start making chicken stew.

Friday, 12 March 2010

It was lovely, thought Mrs Miniver ... fancy having a blog. This is an experiment. It was created by mistake, its title nothing but a passing thought. And hey, suddenly I have a blog. A wordy blog because I don't know how to do pictures. But maybe I'll accidentally learn.
I wonder if anybody out there will ever read it?
I wonder what I will write about?
The book and the movie deal might be a while coming.