The Humble Handkerchief

There are the big things in life which give you much pleasure and then there are the little things.  The morning shower, having nice clean clothes to get dressed in and a drawer containing a pile of freshly  pressed handkerchiefs. Spots, striped, plain, check or floral, which will I have today ? And unless its a morning where great haste is needed it will be one that tones with the clothes I am wearing.

Pressed HankiesOr are you one of these people who use those slimy little squares of disintegrating paper which I find so repulsive.  People look so attractive clutching their bundle of slime, trying to find a dry corner to use. . A quick look around, There’s nowhere I can get rid of it.  Shove it back in the pocket.  What happens  when you toss it in the washing machine without remembering to  to check the pockets.  A basketful of snowflaked clothes.

But tell me, don’t celebrities ever have a problem with a nose ?  There they go, sashaying down the red carpet,  held together with double-sided tape and a swathe or two of fabric, and absolutely  nowhere to hide a hanky or a tissue and not a handbag in sight   What do they do.  I couldn’t imagine leaving the house without a drip catcher or two about my body.  Tucked in the top of a stocking ?:  In my knickers ?  Oh what a terrible thought. So where has Miranda Kerr stashed her hanky, her tissue, her boogie rag, her snot catcher.  How I do envy her – I mean with her dry nose and  being able to leave the house without a hanky, nothing else.

miranda-kerr-makes-sexy-entrance-with-plunging-neckline-at-vanity-fair-oscars-party-2014-01Meanwhile, pegged on the clothesline, small collections of dainty pieces of lawn (a fine all-cotton fabric) are  santizing in the sunshine while I sit in my favourite spot on the deck.

Bench on back deck

Oh where, or where

Has my hanky hidden

Oh where, oh where can it be,

It is oh so soft

Ready  for my bidding

Oh where oh where can it be.

 

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Journey to the Stone Country – Alex Miller and ideas on Conservation

Plenty has been written about the storyline of Journey to the Stone Country.  We have a  fortyish woman who was raised on an outback Queensland station and an aboriginal man who grew up in the same area.  They meet  and when working together visit a long deserted, decaying station house

The house was left with its contents intact so we are given an understanding of what the life was like when the occupants were alive.  My interest was suddenly sparked when the question was raised about the rightness or otherwise of preserving or conserving objects from the past. exactly as they were found.

So imagine standing in the dining room of a fully furnished house whose air has not been disturbed by a human for a long while  Can you feel the previous dwellers.?  Do you feel comfortable or is there a shiver down your spine ? Do you feel that you are intruding on something private ?

Preserve 1One thing we should all treasure is our privacy. With social media this is becoming something that people have less and less regard for. We can have our discussions in our blogs but surely we all draw the line at just how much about ourselves we will reveal.  So if we preserve these objects from the past are we intruding on the privacy of the owners.

Preserve 2When we do conserve the past does that intangible atmosphere disappear ?

Preserve 3Alex Miller gives a very convincing argument which carries you along while you are reading.  In this case it was a substantial house which was the object in question. But how often when driving out in the country have you seen a clump of daffodils just inside the paddock fence, or a lone fruit tree in a most unlikely place and you realise that once there was probably a hut or home on that site

I have done a fair amount of family history research over the years and I have come across documents that have made me mentally apologize to the people for having intruded on their privacy, As far as I am concerned they will remain private.

But on the other hand look at this hut.  It is tucked away in a back yard in Castlemaine, Victoria, and you can see it by driving up the side lane.  Such a pretty little hut, or should I call it a cottage.  My McDonald great-grandparents lived  in this cottage in 1861-2 and had a couple of children there.

CottageCastlemaineI can use my imagination to try and re-create the lifestyle of Jane and Robert.  Would I have different emotions if the cottage had been allowed to fall into disrepair ? Would I feel their ghosts beside me ?  I am pleased that someone has taken the trouble to keep the cottage painted and in good repair.

Alex Miller would say that we have kept the fabric but lost the spirit.

Get Well Message for an Old Friend

 TentCaravan  With Lyn and Peter on a ride

Des. Peter, Lyn

In caravan

Once upon a time there were two young couples who among other things used to go camping together.Now time has passed and one of the older ladies wanted to write to one of the older men to send him a few visual memories, to wish him well with his visit to hospital and hopefully put a smile on his face.  This is what she wrote.

Dear Friend,

! was sorry to hear that you are having a spell in hospital and hope that you make rapid progress and get home soon.

I was wondering if you remember anything about Set Theory, in particular the Intersection of Sets.

A ∩ B = ( x :  x Є A  ʌ  x Є B )

So if we say that

A represents the list of possible ailments for a man, and

B represents the list of possible ailments for a woman

Then

1.  I am quite happy to empathize with you if your present trouble lies in the Intersection Set Aas it  would be quite possible for me to have the same  problem as you

2.  I reserve the right to smirk whenever your ailment is such that A ∩ B = ф , i.e. your ailment doesn’t fall in the intersection set and there is no way in the world that I could possibly get that problem.

3. But I give you permission to smirk, gloat, snigger, grin, jeer, leer  and generally poke fun at my distress in the nicest possible way if any ailment that I should suffer from  also doesn’t lie in the intersection set and that there is no way that you could acquire that problem.

So….. whether your ailments lie in A ∩ B  or if A ∩ B = ф

                         GET WELL SOON.

 

The Man Booker Advertising Agency

Why do we read.  Sometimes we’re looking for facts.  Sometimes it’s for the sheer beauty of the writing that sends shivers up our spines and stops us in our tracks, unable to continue as we have to stop and savour the moment.  Sometimes it’s the story that’s being told, moving along at a good pace.  Or it might be that the book is providing us with food for thought, that it relates to our own life and experiences.

One reason we do not read is to get utterly and thoroughly bored. And that is what has just happened to me with  Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies . I struggled  to get half way through it.  At least that is further than I got with Wolf Hall.  So I’ve thrown it out I hope it gets ripped and smashed and torn and ground and re-cycled into something useful. What a waste of time and paper.

There will be a lot of people who disagree with me, but there are also many who agree..  Except  for a few exceptions I cannot stand the books that are chosen as the winner of the Man Booker Prize

If I had read the Background page of the Man Booker web site  I would have found among its aims that ‘The real success will be a significant increase in the sales of the winning book‘ .  An emphasis on getting money for the author.  That is quite shameful and has nothing to do with good literature. Look Ladies and Gentlemen, we have given this book a prize.  Go forth and spend your hard earned dosh on this book

Another of the original aims of the prize was to ‘ increase the reading of quality fiction and to attract the intelligent audience…’  That is so patronizing.  You want to what ???  Increase my reading of quality  fiction? Quite frankly I don’t think you actually know what quality fiction is.  With each new edition of a dictionary new words are included, words that have entered the vocabulary and are in common usage,  Surely the same thing applies to good literature.  People read,  People talk. People recommend books to one another.  This is where good  literature is decided.  Listen to what they’re saying in  the libraries, in the book clubs.

When I decided  that I couldn’t stand another minute of  Bring up the Bodies I felt humiliated.  I felt small. I felt useless because I am bored and don’t have enough intelligence to appreciate this wonderful, wonderful book.  She does write a very pretty sentence, with everything in its right place,.  Then another pretty sentence.Then another pretty sentence, and so on and so on.  But the content is so bland and so uninteresting.   Perhaps she should read some Julian Barnes or Ian McEwan or David Mitchell and take some lessons. Yes, I know, I couldn’t do what she does.  But I am a reader,  not a writer.

Who chooses  the wnner ? The judges include critics, authors and academics but sometimes include poets,  politicians, journalists, broadcasters and actors. And then the web page goes on

This ‘common man’ approach to the selection of  Man Booker juries is , I believe, one of the key reasons why ‘the intelligent general audience’ trusts the prize..”

I would like to think that every member of those common man professions would take objection to being classified in such a manner. As for me, never again will I allow myself to be manipulated by this advertising scheme masquerading as the Man Booker Prize.

I shall now wait for the world to fall down around my ears for being such a heretic.

See for yourself       http://www.themanbookerprize.com/background

Book or screen version -Austen, Tolstoy and Shakespeare

Twas  early in March and all through the town

Windows were closed and blinds were pulled down

For didn’t you know that this day our fate

Was  for the temp to actually  rise to three eight

The refrig iwas loaded with salads and water

The air con was humming the way that it oughta

It made me feel all at sixes and sevens  *

So as this heat wave rolled on what was there to do but sit around and loaf and read and play with the blogs, that is after I’d rescued that dear little young rabbit from under car wheels on our street.  Such a pretty little grey thing who is now with the local vet and hoping that someone will come forward and claim him.

Image

But because of several blogs that I have read it has got me thinking, did I really like a classic book, or am I really just talking about a screen version

In the Comment section of blogs so  many people  refer to their favorite screen version and how wonderfully a certain actor portrayed the hero. I do it all the time.  Did I like Pride and Prejudice.  Of course, bu I I just loved  Jennifer Ehle, she was perfect for the role  in the BBC series.  How dare that Knightly woman think she could play that role. ( And I also loved Jennifer Ehle in Camomile Lawn  – I wonder if that was a book I could read.)  Which set me thinking as to how do we know that we really enjoyed the book or are reacting to the screen version.

I read One Day by David Nicholls without having seen the movie.  I was aware that Anne Hathaway had been cast for the role of  Emma  so her face floated across the page the whole time I read the book.  Her looks were perfect for the role. But I didn’t enjoy the movie.  It just didn’t seem to be cohesive the way the book was.

Sometimes, however, seeing a well-done screen interpretation can be a great help in re-reading.  Take War and Peace for example.  Audrey Hepburn as the elfin Natasha is just perfect. The images  my mind stored from the movie were a great help when  I again read the book.  I usually prefer to let my imagination run  riot but perhaps I needed a little help with mid C19th  Russia – those broad landscapes, a curving staircase, the magnitude of the war scenes. In fact I wouldn’t mind if some books were illustrated with a few  paintings or photos to illustrate possible settings

Remember. I’m talking about do I know I really like the book or am I influenced by what I have seen on the screen.

If you were to ask me if I like this or that play by Shakespeare I would probably wobble my hand from side to side in a take it or leave it motion. But if you should pick on one w here a stage or screen version  had helped me to understand and enjoy the play and sent me back to read the script then you would get a resounding Yes, I liked it.

This was true when I recently watched the latest offering of Richard II, part of the series The Hollow Crown. I have always found this play a bit boring  but now I am a great fan.  The help I needed this time was not with the backgrounds but with the way the words were spoken, the phrasing and the pauses to get the meaning from the words.  Ben Wishaw as Richard II did this perfectly, in fact he IS Richard II.  So still of body but with such subtle facial expressions you can read what Richard is thinking.

Last night our local TV had an episode of Shakespeare Uncovered, this time on Richard II, presented by the admirable Derek Jacobi.  There were many excerpts from productions long past, but even though the words were familiar none of them moved me the way the present version did..  It is living history.

In the end, does it really matter ? Book or screen version or the beautiful meld of both, which give me so much pleasure.  So thank you Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Tolstoy et al.

* With apologies to ….whoever.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

A few weeks ago I read   David  Mitchell’s Black Swan Green  where the story is told as seen through the eyes of a thirteen year old boy. Paired with this I have now  read  The Sweetness at the Bottom of The Pie by Alan Bradley, this time narrated  by an eleven year old girl.sweetnessatthe bottomofthe pie

We’re taken back to 1950 where eleven year old Flavia de Luce lives in a grand old house in the English countryside

I don’t remember the book mentioning where Flavia was receiving her education but she had this wonderful, ancient, private laboratory at the top of the house, complete with bunsen burners,  test tubes, beakers, flasks and   glass retorts,  as well as the contents of a vast array of  stoppered bottles and a library of old-fashioned chemistry books. It had been set up by an earlier member of the family, and, left so much to her own devices Flavia became an intelligent self-taught chemist.

When a body is found in the cucumber patch Flavia’s analytical mind springs into action and  she is off on the chase to try and find out what has really happened.  How Did He Die and Who Did It ‘

So where did the author get his detailed knowledge of chemistry.  One has to assume that everything he has written is accurate if he wanted to maintain his credibility. And thankfully it is given to us in small doses so that it doesn’t distract from the story line. Chasing the author on Google shows him to have a quiet but  interesting background.

Flavia scampers all over the place on her bike Gladys. It made me realize I miss  seeing that in my town.  Most of the few children I see on bikes are of primary school age.   These days I rarely see a schoolgirl on a bike and I no longer  see groups of boys on the corner of the streets, ogling the girls as they go by ! Bike culture has changed.  At weekends you will see family groups of Mum, Dad and the littlies going for a sedate ride wearing the required helmets. Then there are the serious lycra-clad exercisers, heads down bottoms up eating up the roads.  Bikes are now an extra to a life, not an essential part.

From the Family Album – Young Ladies and their Bikes 1950

Bendigo Teachers College Residence 1950

While growing up I used to ride everywhere even out into the country side .One favourite destination was a fire-watching tower in a pine plantation. These towers were manned by people in the summer so that any column of smoke showing a potential bushfire could have its bearing taken to be triangulated with sightings from other fire towers.  Many of them are still in use.

Within town boundaries there was the swimming dam, sometimes used in preference to the small concrete town pool.  The dam was great, both socially and for the lovely dirty brown water. Well worth the ride to the outskirts of town. But no matter where you went there was that final steep hill to  home which defeated me every time.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the wanderings it induced in my own mind.

Mainly Me, Me, Me and Liebster

Such a surprise to hear from CricketMuse that she had nominated me for a Liebster Award. How very kind of her. Thank you Cricketmuse

My nominator had asked me the following questions –

1. It’s 2pm on a sunny Saturday–where are you and what are you doing?

Heading for a coffee shop with a book under my arm., somewhere with big windows and a pleasant view.

Looking out through the glass

2. Given the choice of reading a classic novel or the latest bestseller which do you prefer?

The bestseller – so much to read and so little time to read it.

3. Could you work in a job without a window?

Only if I had no alternative.

4. How do you celebrate the first day of vacation?

Doing as little as possible.

5. Who is your favorite poet?

Shakespeare – his Sonnets

6. Do you think technology is affecting they way we converse with one another?

Yes – I enjoy the messaging but I do miss the verbal contacts.

7. Here’s the magic wand–what’s your wish?

To disable the vocal cords of a certain politician for a few days ! But that’s a rather negative answer when I should be saying feeding the starving in all countries or giving other countries a  health systen based on the one in Australia where you are given the best of medical care even when you’re poor.

8. What country would you visit if you won the sweepstakes?

Britain

9. Which pet do you prefer–traditional (dog) or exotic (hedgehog)?

traditional – cat

10. How many blogs do you read during the week?

About a dozen.. Read too many and you don’t do them justice. I like to have time to think about the contents.

11. What do you think of blog awards?

It’s a bit like a chain letter, but in a nice way.. But it makes you a link in the chain. Hello fellow Liebsters.

And she asked for 11 Random Facts about myself.

My first cat was called Henry after Henry V.

I have blue eyes.

I love carbohydrates unfortunately

I usually prefer the winter – it energises me.

A regret -I never learnt to ice-skate

A guilty pleasure would be to learn how to be a hacker, in a nice sort of way, just so I could have a little peek !

Favourite musical – Les Miserables – on stage of course, not on film.

I think that’s enough. You know what they say about giving away too much about yourself on the internet and I think I have already said far too much. !

And now I have to devise 11 questions which hopefully will be answered by those I nominate for A Liebster Award but which can be ignored if they are too personal.

1 Favorite book ?

2. Favorite Movie ?

3. Favorite TV Show ?

4. Do you go to concerts, either classical or other ?

5. What things get under your skin and stir you up ?

6. What time do you go to bed / get out of bed ?

9. Do you watch TV in bed ?

10. Do you like wearing hats – what sort

11.When you sing in the shower, what song do you sing ?

Now I can really see you, wearing your favorite hat, with a book and a DVD under your arm and some theatre tickets sticking out of your pocket. and on your way to your favorite protest rally ! Looks like you’re having fun.

Trumpet Roll – here is my list of nominees for a Liebster Award , in no particular order –

1. Serendipities of Life

2. Booker Talk

3.The Matilda Project

4.Cookies and Crafts

5. A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff

7.Like the World

8. anspired

.9. EllisNelson

I don’t know about other people but I keep my reading list fairly short – a few regulars then a little time left to dabble with a random reading.f If someone has taken the time to write a blog entry then I need time to read and think about the entry, not just skim and discard.

The rules of the Liebster Award are as follows :

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.

2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees.

3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen. (No tag backs)

4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog