#94 theoldmortuaryponders

Is the 10th of January 2022 a little late to conclude the reading and viewing plans of the 2021 Festive season?

Even the 10th of January is pushing the truth a bit as my piles of to-be- read books are nicely replenished by the festive season. Just a nice number to revel in rather than overwhelm me.

This book gave me this particular deadline as it is the Bookworms Book Group read and the meeting is today. For completeness I also watched the BBC 4 part dramatisation. Link below.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/p08qf8md/us

I enjoyed both, David Nichols writes books that have emotional depth even if some of his characters lack it, deliberately. The BBC drama had the added benefit of giving me 10 minutes when I could enjoy the acting talents of my lovely next door neighbour, Keith,who had, unknown to me, a small part in episode 3.

I say ‘unknown to me’ as if I insist on knowing where my neighbour has his small parts. This is not the case!

Us gave me light relief after an ill advised Christmas read. My favourite historical period to read is what is known in English speaking worlds as The Jazz Age or Roaring Twenties or in French Années Folles.

My book of choice was-

On Christmas Eve I commented that I was unsure where the book was going. By Christmas Day I was all to aware that the destination was Jersey in World War 2. Even more of a surprise and grimly shocking was that I was actually reading a Biography. It is not that the book wasn’t well written or that I am not glad to have read it but maybe not my usual subject matter for the Yuletide!

Let the reading of 2022 commence.

Pandemic Pondering #517

©The Box. A shard from a North Devon Pottery, excavated from a Colonial site in New England

My leisure reading life and my work life are intersecting currently and in truth a little bit late. I spend a lot of time in the Mayflower Exhibition when I am working in the museum.

Both the exhibition and the book have the same constraint. Very little is known about the actual Mayflower Voyage. Difficult for Historians but good for me as the original source material is the same. The curators of the exhibition do a brilliant job of explaining and expanding the known facts and illustrate them well with actual artifacts. The 60 years following the voyage of the Mayflower is the significant part of the narrative for history and probably the least accurately portrayed by the Thanksgiving myth and beyond. As I read the book my mind is illustrated with the items and documents I spend my day with.

This makes my reading of the book jog along very nicely. Neither the exhibition nor the book allow sentimental and fictional nostalgia, the darkness and brutality of the settlement and the impact on the indigenous people is all part of the story of European Colonisation. In reality the book is not a comfortable or easy read, but I didnt expect it to be.

© The Box

Here is the book I am currently reading.

The Exhibition is at The Box Plymouth.

Pandemic Pondering #475

Yesterday the hardware for our domestic WiFi was installed. Today at some point we should be back in the world of Broadband.

©Debs Bobber

The last three weeks have been frustrating. When we told our network at the old house that we had a moving date the company switched us off immediately. Installation at the new house has not been a smooth operation. Coupled with a very poor 3/4g signal at the new house we’ve been out of the loop. All news and entertainment was provided by a radio. We blagged our way into a friends house to watch the Euro 21 final on TV. Curry, football and a discussion about African Wax cloth was a great experience.

Emails and WhatsApp arrived in a bunch whenever we left home. It has been a great leveller, we are as out of touch with people a mile away as we are with friends and family all over the world. Face to distant face chat outdoors has been our most reliable form of contact.

©Debs Bobber

Yesterday more than 6 book group readers met in a garden to talk about a specific book. This is going to hurt by Adam Kay. ( mixed reviews) Then we shared our good reads of the past month.

All the lovely pictures in this blog were provided by Debs, a Bobber. Bobbing has probably kept us in the loop more reliably than anything else over the last few weeks. Three days a week, at least, regardless of the weather we all meet up at Tranquility Bay and swim and natter. Last night the bay reflected its name.

And there may have been underwater seal activity.

Is this a seals eye. ©Debs Bobber

We await activation!

Pandemic Pondering #347

Yesterday was International Book Day. Serendipity put this book into my hands. I ordered it because I like the input this psychotherapist brings to a TV art programme. Graysons Art Club on Channel 4. Eponymously named for her husband, ceramacist Grayson Perry.

We have a lot of Grayson’s books @theoldmortuary. He is an original thinker. We go to his exhibitions and his live performances. I’m sure Philippa will not have written a bog standard self-help book.

https://g.co/kgs/BYLCwC

This might seem like an odd book for me to read . @theoldmortuary our parents are long dead and the Pandemic has rendered us theoretical relations. No hands on parenting, grandparenting , or siblinging in this house currently.

To be honest I just fancied something that wasn’t a novel, biography or a book club essential. I’ve had a great pandemic year of reading , hardly a moment wasted on a below par book. So why not take some time with a book that is not exactly aimed at me. I love reading books by wise women regardless of the theme or its relevance to my life, there is always nuggets of information to be be gleaned and used for the benefit my mind management.

Wise women will also be significant in my next reading project. I’m writing a review for this fascinating book about women who have relocated to Italy.

LostandfoundinItaly.com

Just as with Philippa Perry there is an arty connection. Linda Winter, a friend of mine who lived a similar London/Tamar Valley life as me, relocated to Italy two years ago and is the illustrator of the book. I can’t wait to get a copy in my hands, how delicious to read it with real purpose and a chance to write about art again.

Pandemic Pondering #325

Book club reading gave me the perfect word for the current Pandemic. Perturbation! The word came from Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. Time to find some Welsh landscape.

Perturbed is a very useful word but I had never expanded it to perturbation.

It works so well with Pandemic and encapsulates our current times without too much jingle jangle alarm.

This months book choice is anything Welsh. I chose Dylan Thomas mostly because I remember Richard Burton narrating Under Milk Wood very effectively. Our next meeting is scheduled for March 1st St Davids Day the Patron Saint of Wales hence the theme.

This blog has accidentally become a book club blog, possibly the only sort of place I could share this odd photograph.

Here I am finishing last months Book Club book, inadvertently dressed to match.

Pandemic Perturbation in a nutshell.

Pandemic Pondering #203

We are not really flower growing people but the eccentricity of Dahlias has led us to attempt a little autumn colour. Last year we had an amazing show of audacious blooms. Despite proper care over winter this year has been not so good.

Pests are likely to be the cause of this year’s tatty blooms. One of the few bonuses of autumn is that as the temperature drops the pests decline. This week we have four good blooms.

I suspect dahlias inspire a certain nerdiness . Instagram search #dahlia has taken me to a world of gorgeousness. Back at home we are making the most of our four precious bugfree blooms.

In other less photogenic news our local library has opened for the first time in 7 months for browsing and borrowing. No books about Dahlias though. Shame

Pandemic Pondering #202

Coffee and books, some days just ooze with pleasure.

This one started well with the arrival of our coffee prize from Extract Coffee. Our beans were roasted by hand restored roasters Big Bertha and Vintage Betty at Extract Coffee.

Home

Coffee at my elbow, it was time to Bookclub Zoomstyle.

Again no spoilers, we all felt very much the same about this book. A complex beginning that could be off-putting but a good tale once the narrative established itself .

Three of us shared an emotional moment that had happened when we met earlier in the week,with the group. @theoldmortuary and a Covidfriend all lost our parents at an earlier than average age, we all loved our parents dearly. A passage in the book had made us all have a little weep. And then another weep when we discussed it and then today when sharing the tale of our weepings, there were more weepings.

The protagonist had never known her mother and now her father was close to death.

“On the third and final night, a bright light shines from my Father’s body. And in the sublime peace of his face, I saw my mother waiting for him.”

” I had never seen my mother’s face and had longed beyond all longing to one day see it. I still do.in fact- that is a desire that age hasn’t softened- because that night her face was hidden, covered by the thick tress of her dark hair.”

” But I knew it was her because she used words like mine and daughter and her breath was of the sea.”

” My father said to her: Hello my love. You’ve come back to me.”

” My mother said: I never left.”

“And in those three words was a lifetime.”

” He said: Shall we go then? And they turned to me and they said: Can you let us go do you think?”

” And I could say nothing. I raised my hand, a feeble attempt at a wave, I think. But I could say nothing. Because I was 14 years old and all I wanted to say was, Please, don’t go.”

There’s not much that can follow such a passage but fortunately the book offers a very upbeat Bonus Material addition to the book.

To be a Reader 

by Sarah Winman

To be a reader, for me,  is about entering a world of unimagined possibility;  to have the willingness to suspend disbelief and to journey trustingly across the terrain of another’s imagination.

 To be a reader is to feel a little less lonely. To be a reader is to be challenged. To feel anger, to feel outrage and injustice. But always to feel, always to think. To be a reader is not a passive state, it is active, always responding.

To be a reader is to have the opportunity to question ourselves at the deepest level of humanity – what would we have done in this situation? What would we have said? To be a reader is to feel empathy and compassion and grief. To be awed and to laugh. To fall in love, with characters, locations, the author.  To be a reader is to learn and to be informed, and to rouse the dreamy inner life to action.

To be a reader is to take time out from the group. To not fear missing out; to turn off the TV, YouTube, the Internet. It is to slow down and engage; to be of the present. To be a reader is to find answers. It gives us something to talk about when we are unsure what to say.

To be a reader is to have the chance to collect stories like friends, and hold them dearly for a lifetime. It is to feel the joy of connection.

To be a reader is a cool thing to be.

To be a reader is wealth.

Pandemic Pondering #200

@theoldmortuary are having a strange old week. Lots of work to do towards an anticipated end point without ever quite knowing where that end point might be. As a consequence we’ve had no wi-fi and poor signal coupled with too much physical work for pondering. On a positive note there has been time for reading this week. I’ve finished the book club book mentioned in Pandemic Pondering #236. Some bits needed rereading before the Monday Zoom meeting.

My choice of reading has changed with the pandemic. With more time I’ve given myself the chance to enjoy a broader range of styles. This book is as marvelous as it’s title. A contemporary dose of magic realism. A tale of the West Country with the cliché content woven in a unique way.

Book number two in the informal @theoldmortuary Book Club is…

This is quite a ride. Is it poetry or prose? A breathtaking, stay awake long-after-bed-time read. No spoilers here. I’ve never read anything quite like it in its style. It has the punch of a short story with twists and turns that made me squirm with anticipatory caution for the protagonist.

Finally number three

This has everything that book one has in using geography I am really familiar with, London. Coupled with Modernist Fine Art and a Windrush generation narrator. The Spanish Civil War is also a massive character in this book.

In my Covid Friend Collection I have gathered a scatty English teacher who probably winces at my punctuation and grammar but can also talk the hind leg off a donkey. I’m pushing these three in her direction so we can have a good old book natter. Happy Sunday xxx

Pandemic Pondering #181

Lockdown @theoldmortuary changed many things , some things stayed the same.Today we received half of a prize that represents change and we await the half that represents no change. This is to encourage anyone who sees those ‘share and comment’ posts on Instagram for a chance to win a prize. The prizes are real and random people win them.

Our reading habits changed during Lockdown. Hannah completely lost the ability to commit to a book. I lost the focus for the kind of books I like to read and developed a thirst for foreign based detective drama. We weren’t unusual, everyone in my book group reported changes in genre choice. None of us managed to read the classics or ‘ difficult’ books that you might imagine time and limited life choices might allow.

Today we received the first part of our prize. 4 books fromhttps://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/ Neither of us are thriller readers but with changes in reading style so fresh in our minds and a gift of books, now must be the time.

Book bundle from https://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/
Coffee the ‘ no change’ habit @theoldmortuary . Less cake recently

Coffee and the pursuit of excellence is unchanged @theoldmortuary . Our prize will come from https://extractcoffee.co.uk/ A company we have used to send us lovely coffee by post.

What a clever coupling, books and coffee. Perfection would be enjoying both in a foreign place beside a pool. What may well happen is a flask of good coffee, a book and some warm clothes after a swim at the only pool available to us.

Tidal Pool, Devils Point, Plymouth
Tidal Pool, Devils Point ,Plymouth

Not a bad way to enjoy a prize.

Pandemic Pondering #52

It’s Sunday so there is cake.Merlin Jobst- Best Boldest Coffee Cake- For Jamie Oliver.In true Sunday style half the cake has gone off on its travels. Tomorrow another quarter will go on its way.This Sunday the cake accompanies books.I’ve been invited to share 7 books I enjoy on Facebook. No explanations, no reviews. Then I invite 7 friends to do the same.It just seems a bit sad not to share my reasons so I’m doing it here and I can pop a link on Facebook.In no particular order.This is a recent read , all the action takes place on one New Year’s Eve. But the narrative covers almost 60 years of New York History and the personal story of Lilian Boxfish. It was a page turner yet the subject matter was poetry, advertising and the life of a business woman. Hardly normal page turning material.I love words. I’ve owned this book since 1972, it’s preferable to on line thesaurus searching.Like the Thesaurus this book is never far from my bedside. 5 minutes or 5 hours can be lost between it’s covers. My favourite diarist in this brilliant book is Alan Bennett.New York by Edward Rutherford. The same city as Lilian Boxfish but this time the history is counted in centuries. As a reader I was kept on the edge of my seat/bed/sunlounger by the way history turned and altered not by planning or intention but by coincidence, missed encounters or wicked intent.Colour theory and the history of colour are some of my favourite subjects to read about when I might get interrupted. This book always accompanied my on- call nights in a London Hospital . It didn’t always get a lot of attention.Blood and Sugar , a story of Deptford that taught me so much and explained why the historical architecture of Deptford is so outrageously and shamefully grand. I use the word outrageous and shame deliberately but this is a great piece of historical fiction.

Another tale of London set in part just 50 yards from the London Hospital where the Colour Book accompanied me in my On- calls. A great read about a prostitute and her ‘ protector’ and the characters around them, it has a curious end which is tidied up by a subsequent collection of short stories