Saturday 31 March 2012

A ramble about books

Normally my bookish blog postings occur on my book blog. There’s an element of logic in that. But occasionally I feel like confusing everyone so today here’s a ramble about books.

Have you ever read a book that scared you? I’ve read two, both when I was about fourteen. One was a school text – William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. An ‘adventure tale’ about a group of British schoolboys marooned on a tropical island. It is horrible. It repugnantly exposes the duality of human nature itself - the dark, eternal divide between order and chaos, intellect and instinct, structure and savagery. The unkindness of man (or boy) to man is shown in all its abomination. I didn’t only dislike the book but it scared me because I realised children could act like that.

The other one was The Island of Doctor Moreau by H G Wells. Written in 1896, it was an instant sensation. It was meant as a commentary on Darwin's theory of evolution, which H. G. Wells stoutly believed. The story centres on the depraved Dr. Moreau, who conducts unspeakable animal experiments on a remote tropical island, with hideous, humanlike results. Edward Prendick, an Englishman whose misfortunes bring him to the island, is witness to the Beast Folk's strange civilization and their eventual terrifying regression. While gene-splicing and bio-engineering are common practices today you have to remember Wells's haunting vision and the ethical questions he raised were over a hundred years ago. Because I was inspired by the idea of Well’s being so ahead of his time (as was Jules Verne) I started the book again when I was in my thirties or forties and this time I didn’t even finish it – it was so revolting.

The film of the book - 1932's Island of Lost Souls, starred Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi. Originally rejected and unclassified by the British Board of Film Censors in 1933 - and again in 1957 - the film was eventually classified with an X certificate with cuts in 1958. In 1996 these cuts were restored and the film gained a 12 certificate. In 2011, it was resubmitted for a new DVD/Blu-ray release and was passed as a PG - making it viewable by children, though it carries the warning: "Contains mild violence and scary scenes". "When we had to classify it again last year, we went for PG on the basis of the comparison with the Doctor Whos and the Harry Potters," explained BBFC director David Cooke. Obviously folk are not scared as easily nowadays as in my youth!

Changing the specific topic but keeping with books - Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme and a different question is posted every week.

This week there were two questions - Are there any fictional characters whom you have emulated (or tried to)? Who and why? And, secondly, what literary character do you feel is most like you personality-wise (explain)?

As a youngster I always tried to emulate the latest hero I was reading about and it didn't matter if they were elf, dragon rider or human. Nowadays I am satisfied being me but once I'm back in a book there's usually someone I'm identifying with.

I can't say I've ever felt there was someone I was really like. Pity - there are plenty I wish I was like! Perhaps the nearest is Professor John Keating in "Dead Poet's Society" by Nancy Kleinbaum (1989) - as played by Robin Williams in the film. I was unconventional; I tried very hard to inspire those I worked with; sometimes succeeded and equally frequently fell foul of bureaucracy.  But none of my staff ever shot themselves!.

I don’t read many book review blogs on a regular basis but I sometimes wander around a number of them and take a quick peek. This week I came across Edwards Granddaughter who reviewed Absolutely Organize Your Family by Debbie Lillard. It sounds interesting and I liked this summary of Lillard’s philosophy –
“In all areas we should:
           Only keep what you use
           Subtract before you add
           Finish one project before you start another one
           Daily routines are a must

Oh how I need to remember those four rules! It would make me so much more organised.  I console myself by thinking it may make me rather boring….  That's my excuse.

And now I’m off back to my book – I’m currently reading ‘The Somnambulist’ by Essie Fox published last year. When seventeen-year old Phoebe Turner visits Wilton's Music Hall to watch her Aunt Cissy performing on stage, she risks the wrath of her mother Maud who marches with the Hallelujah Army, campaigning for theatres to close. While there, Phoebe is drawn to a stranger, the enigmatic Nathaniel Samuels who heralds dramatic changes in the lives of all three women. But some secrets are better left buried….  It's a rattling good yarn, as they say.

Thursday 29 March 2012

Friday My Town Shoot-out - neglected structures (and a link to a Giveaway!)

This week's set of photos is from the Isles of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland.

One of my favourite views on the whole Isle of Lewis and yet it has no sea in it.

When they've been there as long as these two have I reckon they count as structures!

Can't get much more neglected that that.

It may be neglected but it's useful for drying the fishing nets.

One I played with to turn into a 'watercolour'! 

If you would like to see what neglected structures other members of the gang have found please click on this FMTSO link.


This week Silke at Metamorphosis is running a Giveaway. The prize is a girl called Sophia. I thoroughly recommnend you take a trip there and leave a comment. Silke's pictures of girls' faces are unique and each girl has such a different character shining from her (mainly through her eyes and posture). One of them captivated me so much I couldn't resist going to Silke's Etsy shop and buying her. If you enter I wish you good luck!

Tuesday 27 March 2012

ABC Wednesday – K is for Kilt

The kilt is a knee-length garment with pleats at the rear, originating in the traditional dress of men and boys in the Scottish Highlands of the 16th century. Since the 19th century it has become associ-ated with the wider culture of Scotland in general, or with Celtic (and more specifically Gaelic) heritage even more broadly. It is most often made of woollen cloth in a tartan pattern. Although the kilt is most often worn on formal occasions and at Highland games and sports events, it has also been adapted as an item of fashionable informal male clothing in recent years, returning to its roots as an everyday garment.

The kilt first appeared as the great kilt, the breacan or belted plaid, during the 16th century and is Highland Gaelic in origin, a full-length garment whose upper half could be worn as a cloak draped over the shoulder, or brought up over the head.

The philibeg or small kilt, also known as the walking kilt (similar to the modern kilt) did not develop until the late 17th or early 18th century, and is essentially the bottom half of the great kilt. It is said by some to have been invented by an English Quaker from Lancashire called Thomas Rawlinson sometime in the 1720s for the use of the Highlanders employed by Rawlinson and Ian MacDonnell, chief of the MacDonnells of Inverness, in logging, charcoal manufacture and iron smelting, for which the belted plaid was too "cumbrous and unwieldy".

One of the most-distinctive features of the authentic Scots kilt is the tartan pattern, the sett, it exhibits. This is a check type woven piece of cloth that has been Registered with the Scottish Tartans Authority in Crieff. Each tartan has a thread count and colours attached to the count. There are over 6000 tartans. The association of particular patterns with individual clans and families is a recent phenomenon and it was only in the Victorian era that the named tartans known today began to be systematically recorded and formalized, mostly by weaving companies for mercantile purposes. Up until this point, Highland tartans held regional associations rather than being identified with any particular clan.

By contrast, it seems that female curiosity as to what is worn beneath the kilt is not a modern phenomenon – this cartoon dates from 1815!

This is Kilt Rock on the Isle of Skye, one of the Inner Hebrides off the Western coast of Scotland. Located on the east coast of Skye’s Trotternish Peninsula, Kilt Rock is a 200 foot high sea cliff with a striking rock formation.

It is said to resemble a kilt, with vertical basalt columns forming the pleats and intruded sills of dol-erite forming the pattern.

This entirely natural phenomenon is similar to the basalt rocks on the Isle of Staffa near Iona.

The Mealt Waterfall , a spectacular 200 foot high waterfall plunges over the cliff edge down to the pebbled shore beneath with Kilt Rock in the background.

If you would like to see more examples of how the letter K has been handled by the Alphabet Wednesday crew please visit the ABC link site.

Monday 26 March 2012

A Monday Meander

 I've just watched the first Television version of 'Just a Minute', the Radio 4 show that has been going for 45 years.  It was great.  Nicholas Parsons was in the chair as usual and today's panel were Phil Jupitus, Graeme Norton, Paul Merton and Sue Perkins.  Other panellists to be seen in the rest of the ten-episode series will be Stephen Fry and Julian Clary.  Sticking faithfully to the well-loved BBC Radio format, each episode will see a selection of comics and well known performers attempting to talk for one minute on a given subject.  They have to do so without repetition, deviation or hesitation and the other panellists can challenge on any of those grounds (or anything else they feel like interrupting for in order to amuse the audience!).

I got so many comments on the last post and I know that not everyone reads the follow-up comments so I thought I'd make this one a follow on from the 'Saturday Sunshine' post. 

The confidential papers, Jenny, were mainly old bills and things and confidential papers related to Partner-who-drinks-tea's counselling business. Having had my identity stolen on one of my debit cards I'm a bit over-cautious about scrapping things with my name and address and any financial details on them. It all began when I got a phone call from Mastercard asking if I'd just bought a pizza in London?  Since I was on my Liverpool phone it seemed reasonable to say something like 'Yer What?'

We have a shredder but it's a bit slow and burning stuff is so much more fun! Pondside, there is something so satisfying about playing with flames I'm not surprised the Great Dane loves it too.  I seriously wonder if it goes back to our early origins and the hunter / gatherer setting his sticks alight.  I wonder what the female equivalent is?

I never knew that about Kilvert's niece, Jenny, Considering what was left it would be so wonderful to have the other stuff.  I love his diary.  The story reminded me of Haydn and his manuscripts. 

Haydn, it is alleged, was not happily married; his wife Maria Anna Keller is described as 'not good-looking, ill-natured, totally indifferent to music, and quite incapable of providing either a home or children'.  She is said to have used his manuscripts as hair curlers and for lining her pastry tins! 

Marcheline, the chocolate covered cherries are still going strong, thanks.  Mmmmm, pause to lick lips.

Ann, I've only just been given the headband so can't comment on whether it works. Added to that my migraines are so erratic it's always difficult to know what helps or makes them worse.

Donna, I've not done yoga as such but I've done breathing exercises and relaxation since I was a child.   I think without the breathing exercises some of them would be far worse.  Relaxing is, of course, difficult but when achieved also helps a lot.  So they do help but unfortunately not enough.

Carol, I think it is quite common for migraines to just disappear in middle age, especially with women, suggesting that they may have some sort of hormonal origin in some people.  I've just been told by the neurologist that my episodic migraines have become chronic migraine which means there is no respite.  Between the bad ones there is a constant background one.   She is asking my GP to prescribe some new medication that may help to take them back to episodic ones. There are people who suffer from far worse things and when things aren't totally disabling I have a good life.  But thanks to everyone for the sympathy and to Partner-who-drinks-tea and Son-who-watches-film for the tea to go with it!

Saturday 24 March 2012

Saturday Sunshine

It’s been a strange week. Good days, bad days and days that seemed to go so quickly I could’t catch up with myself.

I don’t often post photos of myself but I couldn’t resist these two.

Me man – me make fire! Burning some confidential papers.

Me lived through 60s – me Hippy. Actually it’s a band with magnets inside. When you’ve had one continuous migraine since November you’ll try anything; no matter what it looks like.

And while I’m strapping things up there’s the ankle to do as well…  I won't show you that it's even less pretty than a full frontal of my face!

Sunday was Mother’s Day and one of Partner-who-drinks-tea’s presents was Bananagrams.

Which we played – good fun.

But her main present was – a teapot.

And something to put in it.

I hope Canadian Chickadee won’t mind me showing Robin in the bath!

The sun continued to shine and I got baskets and pots planted with the first of the annuals. There will be more to go in as the Spring continues.

And at last we have frogspawn in the ponds.

And my laptop has got a new look.

I decided she needed a new name as well.

It is Tamandua Voratverba (Tamandua is a genus of ant-eater while vorat verba is Latin for ' She who greedily consumes words'). Since this is a bit of a mouthful I've decided upon Tammy for short but if you want to address her formally you'll need her full name.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Friday My Town Shoot-out - spires, steeples and weathervanes.

As usual I have been very naughty and interpreted 'My Town' as virtually the whole of mainland Britain though the above one is just down the road - at Eastham on the Wirral.  Hopefully my cheating will be forgiven.  As can be told by the state of some of the photos they are from my archives asnd the dirty appearance of some is because they were scanned in from slides and I failed to clean the slides properly.  Silly me.

This one is My Town - Liverpool.

Exeter Cathedral in Devon has lots of towers and spires. 

This little church is at Altcar on Merseyside, not far from Liverpool.

Another Wirral church - Capenhurst.

This slide is labelled as Deerhurst Church in Gloucestershire but it isn't.  It was taken on that Cotswold cycling holiday, in 1965, but I've labelled it wrongly.  I wonder where it was?

How's this for an unusual spire - Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire.

And here is an octagonal spire at Fifield in Oxfordshire.

And, of course, I had to include a weathercock - this one is just down the road at Thurstaston on the Wirral.

If you would like to see what spires, steeples and weathervanes other members of the gang have found please click on this FMTSO link.

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