Wednesday Mishmash

I should really be writing a proper review of Rook by Jane Rusbridge, which is a beautiful novel, slowly and delicately unfolding like a paper flower in water. It’s also a book set over the course of one feverishly hot summer, which made reading it feel like a jolt and a surprise, the swiftness of being transported from one climate to another. However, given that I am in the thick of Christmas madness at the moment, rushing around shopping and spending half my life in post office queues, I feel I don’t have the focus to do it justice. So, another day then.

I’d been planning a more austere Christmas than usual and had intended to make some gifts. However, when I had a go at craft with Mr Litlove on the weekend, I realised why I am more qualified to walk into shops and hand over money. First of all, you’ve got to watch those craft blogs – they lie! Oh it’s all so easy, some deft-fingered person coos at you, a doddle, a piece of cake! The experience really reminded me of watching Blue Peter as a child, and longing to make one of their models out of sticky back plastic and cereal cartons. Some professional artist had produced them for the show, and the perplexity one felt attempting to create the same thing at home, and the unrecognisable specimen that was cobbled together by the end really came back to me. I borrowed Mr Litlove, who is the practical one, as the instructions called for use of a sharp craft knife and I know my limitations. Well, he’d managed to cut his finger before we even got started with the knife, so we had to pause to bind the wound. Then I remembered why I don’t sew: cotton snarling up into bunnies’ ears that won’t come loose. We made a prototype, about which the less said the better, and one example that wasn’t too awful. Then we called it a day in order to rethink our strategy. I can’t tell you what we were making as people read this blog who might be on the receiving end – unless we continue to create them bloodstained and falling apart at the seams, of course. Not even our mothers would want those ones.

I wonder how many people remember, back in the summer, me sending a teasing and somewhat misleading text to the window cleaner? Well he’s only turned out to be Casanova reincarnate. I’d never been propositioned by text before, but as I am growing older I’m always grateful for new experiences that keep me up with the times. And the window cleaner is quite nice, sort of a cheeky chappie with biceps of steel. At first I was mortified, until I was reminded that these things are very rarely personal. Indeed, I am thinking that the window cleaner’s work with me is done, and he may be moving onto Ms Thrifty. When he came in to the bookshop this week, and I didn’t have enough time to run and hide out back, she gamely said she’d deal with the interaction (as an ex-head teacher she is quite fearless with renegades and mavericks). The conversation moved to birthdays, and when it turned out that both were Scorpios, the window cleaner was quick to point out that they belonged to the sexiest sign in the zodiac. Even Ms Thrifty had to pause for a moment to think how best to respond to that one. Note to self: remind manager NOT to hang mistletoe.

And a quick word on reading: I’m three-quarters of the way through Candia McWilliam’s long and intricate memoir, What To Look For in Winter; a Memoir in Blindness. I’ve had all sorts of shifts of feeling with this book as I’ve slowly worked my way through it. It requires patience and commitment from the reader, as I was tempted to give it up during earlier sections that seemed obsessed with status and achievement. But now I’m so glad I stuck with it, and feel instead that the author has almost moved through the several people she has been in her lifetime, some healthier than others. Now I’ve done a complete u-turn and think it’s a significant book. I dread the size of the review I may have to write to get in everything I’d like to say about it. In other news I have also begun Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Yes okay, I can see why people love this book so. It’s testing for me, though, as I know next to nothing about history and Mantel is as allusive as a good literary writer should be. I will obviously learn a great deal about the Tudors. Finally, apologies: I am a bad commenter but will make up the defecit soon, and I DO hope to persuade my computer support to change those pictures in the sidebar which are now desperately out of date!

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11 thoughts on “Wednesday Mishmash

  1. oooh, ‘James Joyce’ I’m loving the stream…. Great blog and so you can really get my reading preferences I didn’t like Wolf Hall. Am I going to be pilloried now? Is that how ‘pilloried’ is spelt? And I say that even though she’s read one of my short stories. Ahhhh….

  2. Wolf Hall was my audiobook as I drove around on errands last winter. I dislike winter and suffer from some degree of seasonal affective disorder, so it was good for me to be hearing about Tudor England. No matter how bad things got in my life, there was always something worse going on in Cromwell’s sphere of influence.

  3. Oooo Wolf Hall. Can I rec that you watch the Tudors if you don’t know much. It’s soapy and not super accurate (for example Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Henry until he dies and gains very little weight), but it’s so much fun! Also the dialogue includes parts from primary sources (trust me, you’ll know when they switch into that mode) and the Cromwell in that is just…*sigh* (I’m a big fan of Thomas and the later, unrelated Oliver). JRM gets the king’s psychopathic tendancies down just right, without ever alienating the viewer from his character.

  4. Haven’t read any Candia McWilliams, but Loved Wolf Hall. And I can’t say I’d noticed the window cleaner at the Oxfam book shop where I volunteer, but the Big Issue seller who stands outside has a nice line in cheeky chat-up and always cheers me up. I made him coffee today, because it was so cold, and got a much warmer thank you than ever I do when I make coffee at home!

  5. Oh crafting instructions. I always see them and think that I need only get myself the correct props and I will magically become a person who can create beautiful decorative items that will thrill the hearts of my friends-and-relations. I once felt the same way about elaborate cooking recipes too, but now I know better. Those just are not my gifts. I am good at buying presents but not at making them and that is just something I must accept about myself.

    (But it remains so tempting! All the diagrams, and the pictures of the supplies laid out neatly on a table together.)

  6. Craft projects always take longer than you think they should and never turn out looking anything like the photo or being half as easy is claimed. At least that’s my experience and it sounds like yours too! We’d be jolly crafters together, bet we could teach each other some new swear words ;) I hope to start Wolf Hall next weekend so read slow!

  7. This one really made me smile. I’m also pretty bad at crafts (busy trying to make calendars for family and it’s surprisingly difficult) and I could just imagine the bloodstained product at the end. (That was a sympathetic smile by the way.) And I do remember that builder. Love the latest development with Ms Thrifty. Hope you have a lovely Christmas. :-)

  8. I always say I am going to make my gifts for Christmas, but it never happens. I don’t ever allow myself enough time to stitch and sew them. Lately I can’t even manage to finish anything for myself (and these are projects that have been in progress for months and months!). Your window cleaner sounds like quite a flirt, but at least he must make things interesting! And so glad to hear Wolf Hall is just as good as everyone says–I’d like to get to it next year sometime, too. Already thinking about next year’s reading–hah!

  9. Craft projects have been my nemesis in the past. I had to chuckle about your description of your experience. I do think that some of us are better suited to buy gifts but I do envy those that are “crafty” and deft with scissors and glue and fabric and,and, and! Happy New Year!

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