Pandemic Pondering #246

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 #244

@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 #236

The  link below takes you to an excellent article published in the Guardian today.

Pandemic Ponderings has covered most of the topics mentioned but the whole lot, covered by a proper newspaper, makes for a less whimsical read. Even before this article appeared, today, other people’s writing was going to inform this blog.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/sep/25/top-10-locals-guide-to-plymouth-mayflower-400-anniversary?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

This is the book,randomly chosen, for the September choice of my book club. By a huge coincidence a character in this novel visits Plymouth . A couple of comments in the book reminded me of things I have not yet pondered about . Given that this blog is about Plymouth, I will just share the Plymouth based one today. But before that an aside.

An hour or so before this blog was due to be published I finished this book. Further curious and serendipitous connections come to light. I love the book for many reasons, including its locations. It is based geographically in places I know intimately, Cornwall and the area around St Pauls Cathedral in the City of London.

Just as I sit through the rolling credits of films, I also read the acknowledgements in books. This one dealt a huge dollop of serendipity. The author, Sarah Winman writes ” Thank you to The Gentle Author and the community that has grown around the Spitaldfelds Life Blog- you are a constant reminder of why we do what we do”

Spitaldfelds Life is the Gold Standard that drives my writing @theoldmortuary . The Gentle Author guided and encouraged me, and many other blog writers to simply write. The surprise to see him mentioned at the back of this novel gave me such a warm and welcome boost. He really is the loveliest of men , the courses he runs are inspirational.

Returning to talking about the pondering the book inspired. In,A Year of Marvellous Ways, a sexual awakening and affaire de coeur is marked by the gift of a penny which is significant to the location of the entwinement. To illustrate this I need to rummage a bit.

It didn’t take long to find an old penny. Significantly this one would have been used in the Plymouth Area. It was designed by Leonard Charles Wyon an adaptation of a design by his father William Wyon for earlier pennies.

1967 British Penny ©theoldmortuary

The lighthouse, which can just be glimpsed behind Britannia is Smeatons Tower. Plymouths Iconic Landmark. Imaged on the coin in its original position on the Eddystone Rocks. 9 miles south west of Rame Head in Cornwall. Despite being closest to Cornwall the rocks are within the City limits of Plymouth and therefore considered to be within Devon.

Another blog that shaped its own destiny. Not the journey I planned but the journey that happened whilst I was planning.