Tuesday 31 August 2021

Flopping around the house yesterday on a miserably grey bank holiday, I felt myself reverting to my inner teenager - but 'Mu-u-um, I've nothing to do' is a bit feeble coming from the over-60s, especially when you don't need a Mum to remind you that there's plenty of housework. So I decided a 'beguiling drama of war-torn young love' might do the trick, phoned my most reliable last-minute friend and off we set ... Ladies, it was truly awful. Like somebody else's off-springs' school play. Memo to self: sometimes it's better to stay in with a book. 4* from the Guardian. 2* from me. 0* from friend who hated every minute.

Friday 27 August 2021

This is the most gorgeous book to browse and flick through - but I don't think I've ever read less enticing recipes! (The author warns that results can't be guaranteed!) To be sure, the famous boeuf en daube from To the Lighthouse sounds mouth-watering - 'its confusion of savoury brown and yellow meats, and its bay leaves and its wine' - and I'd happily lunch off soles and partridges and fine wines at a Cambridge men's college, if not off plain gravy soup, beef and yellowed sprouts and prunes and custard as offered to Virginia Woolf at Newnham in 1929. The Bloomsberries were a greedy lot - but this wasn't a high point in our national cuisine. I've a soft spot for a suet pud - made with proper butcher's suet - and I've no qualms about offal ... but Lydia Lopokova's boiled beef and brain in a wine sauce didn't have me running to the butcher (maybe I'm being unfair as I've never tasted brain) - and so much aspic and bechamel sauce with everything. I felt a longing for colour and crunch. Chocolate and Chivers' strawberry jelly mould, anyone?
Time travel, magical realism ... I'd normally run a mile, but I was very taken by this gentle Japanese story about the Cafe Funiculi Funicula where, if you sit in a particular seat, you can travel back in time - but only for the time it takes for your coffee to get cold. There's a film - but I don't know if it was ever released over here. It would be unbearably twee and sentimental if written by a British author, or god forbid an American - but its Japanese reticence saves it. A summer read that I finished in a day.
More radio! I can't seem to find anything I fancy on television - I'm soooo bored with murder! (Though I enjoyed belatedly catching up with the repeat of ITV's Lucan last night which, though first broadcast several years ago, offered an intriguing new explanation that hadn't occurred to me before.) The Fortnight in September is one of my favourite Persephone Books - so I listened to the first few episodes of the new Radio 4 adaptation over my dinner earlier this week. But wouldn't it make a great TV series ... the seaside boarding house and the bathing huts and the prom, I wanted to see it all! I'm not sure about the pace of this adaptation, though. I'm half way through - episode five - and it's still only the first night of the hols. Much better to re-read the book!

Tuesday 24 August 2021

I've only listened to the first episode - with the Nazi top brass held in the Grand Hotel at Bad Mondorf, in Luxembourg, otherwise known as Camp Ashcan - and so far this Radio 4 series promises to be fascinating.

Saturday 7 August 2021

'Mother, housewife, novelist, expert radio technician, spymaster, courier, saboteur, bomb-maker, Cold Warrior and secret agent, all at the same time ...' I'm soooo gripped by Agent Sonya and we've not even got to the Cotswolds where she made excellent cakes and sent messages to Moscow from the outside lav. Someone must be making a film!