Sunday, 24 September 2023

Just about warm enough last night to sit for a few minutes in the lovely rose garden behind the Actors' Church before the concert. (I was well upholstered by a warm cardamom bun dripping in syrup. Best buns in London!) Then a bit of memorial-spotting in the interval.

Friday, 15 September 2023

Not setting the intellectual bar very high this week, as you'll have guessed from my last post - but I've been really enjoying this old-fashioned children's book and galloped through it in a couple of days. I read the Persephone edition but this old Puffin cover seems rather more appropriate than Persephone's elegant dove-grey jackets which would have had zero appeal to me as a 10-year-old. Warning: it's best to switch off your critical faculties and just wallow. Once you start nit-picking about feckless parents who abandon their children (think a dry-land version of Swallows and Amazons' 'only duffers drown') and wonder why none of the children seems even mildly distressed, let alone traumatised (perhaps because Daddy is a foul-tempered crank and Mummy's a drip); and why, even though there's a master-class in hay-box cooking, nobody explains how to go to the loo when you live in a barn (or were middle-class kiddies in the 1930s too well-bred to have bottoms?) .. no, best just to wallow. Though I did long to shake Sue, the elder girl, and get her to stop washing and cleaning for her brothers - even their hankies, yuck - and making their beds! Sue, you are training up three useless husbands for the next generation! And possibly this book should come with a warning about putting flighty ideas into parents' heads: 'Sorry, dearies, had a bang on the head, woke up half way up a mountain and forgot you brats existed' ... even today's helicopter parents might be sorely tempted!

Thursday, 14 September 2023

Guess it was inevitable - I kind of knew I'd crack in the end.

Wednesday, 6 September 2023

That was absolutely the best night out ... great songs, brilliant set design, and we were greeted on arrival by Tower Bridge opening to let a tall ship through which was fun. It's 40 years since I last saw Guys & Dolls (gulp!) at the National Theatre with a very starry cast including Julia Mckenzie, Bob Hoskins and a very young Imelda Staunton - but honestly I think tonight was more fun. If my knees were 40 years younger, I'd have booked standing tickets - which really should be called dancing tickets! I must say I rather regretted my sensible, grown-up decision that we needed a seat. Still humming those tunea!

Sunday, 27 August 2023

So glad that I, Claudius has proved every bit as engrosing as it was back in 1976 when it was cult viewing in the college JCR. (Two TVs for the whole college and much bickering over channels ... those were the days!)
I'm down on thrift this week, having just destroyed my printer, seemingly by recycling scrap paper. (Well, how was I to know?) But then I often find that looking after pennies ends up costing pounds in the end. So, no - I'm not going to refashion my worn-out denim into a Japanese boro garment that's likely to become a collector's item. Still, there was something very satisfying about the Japanese Aesthetics of Recycling exhibition that appealed to my (well-buried) inner Marie Kondo. I'd never been to the Brunei Gallery; turns out I used to walk past it every other week on my way to seminars that, sadly, have moved on-line since the pandemic.
Nothing was wasted. Handmade washi paper was made from old ledgers and used as wrappings for kimonos or other bulky objects. (Perhaps I should have tried that with my stacks of old book proofs instead of jinxing the printer!) This one was made from pawn shop ledgers; the writing reveals that the family who deposited a kimono never managed to redeem it. The recycled papers were rendered waterproof with persimmon paste. And can you imagine having a jacket made from wisteria fibre - which actually looks quite tough. Or a kimono made from advertising banners for violet soap or camellia oil shampoo? The exhibition is free, always a good thing! And on a sunny afternoon last week, I sat for a while in the Japanese roof garden, that I never realised was there, reading my book and enjoying my bird's eye view over the rooftops of Bloomsbury.

Tuesday, 15 August 2023

I came across this book purely by chance, after reading a blurb at the back of another strange book by the same publisher - and having read it in two sittings (it's only 100pp), I can honestly say it's one of the most disturbing I've ever read. Up there with Shirley Jackson's The Lottery. 'They' are purging an idyllic pastoral England of art and artists - destroying books and tearing out bookplates to efface the memory of bookish gifts. 'They' loathe people who live alone, people who make things, people who are self-sufficient. 'They' maim writers and promote blaring television 24/7. 'They' was published in 1977 but seems more horribly relevant today. Of course, the reader smugly identifies as one of 'us', not one of 'them' - and I'm not sure that's altogether healthy, either.