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!