Monday, 30 December 2019

Mrs Mac Suggests - what to read in JANUARY

It's coming - 2020 I mean, and a whole twelve months of lovely reading to follow!  Here in the SW of England, no snow to report, not too much flooding in my town, and quite high temperatures for the time of year so have not even got my winter coat out!

Christmas is over and my sister will be picked up and driven home by a friend today.... she has been with us for two weeks and has eaten everything put in front of her (heartening, I hate a fussy eater!).  She slept well, and for the very first time in her life has perfected the art of a cup of tea with a few pages of a book before she gets dressed........!!

So what are we going to read in 2020?  I read loads in 2019: all listed on Goodreads if you are nosey! https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/18687279

So let's get started on the year.  What shall I suggest for this month?   How about

A book set in a seaside town      

I don't read many series (I like to change things round a bit!), although I have a couple of favourites, but sometime this month I will read the second in the Stephens and Mephisto series.... set in Brighton, and starring a detective and his friend the magician.  Set in the 1950s, it goes from the UK to New York and back.  So I'm looking forward to reading 

The Blood Card - Elly Griffths

Happy New Year everyone.  Don't try too hard, just enjoy what you can!

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Winter, Christmas, Solstice - take your pick for my greeting to you 2019

Red-petaled Flowers on Braches


Here we are as usual.... with greetings to any and all who come across this... my regulars, my once in a while visitors.  And this year my wish is actually for next year.  May 2020 be a good year, a joyful year, a quiet year, full of joy and good health for you and yours.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Mrs Mac Suggests: What to read in DECEMBER 2019

Sorry!  a day or two late as it's December already, but due to some family emergencies I couldn't get here.... but I'm here now.

It's December, and for some folk that means snow.  Here in the SW of England it's cold but dry and perhaps with NO RAIN for a while - YAY!

So do you get in the Christmas spirit by reading something heartwarming?  Or perhaps something  quite the opposite?

I am suggesting  a book  50 years old or older should be the read for December.  Now that might be

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
or
An English Murder - Cyril Hare

but whatever it is, it sort of needs to be set around the Christmas Season.  I have just read An English Murder (1950) which was a short and sweet English Country House story.  I liked it.  Clever.

So wishing you good reading and a Cool Yule where ever and whoever you are.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

When The Floods Came - Clare Morrall

Isn't a well-written book with a good story and a "proper" ending a joy to read?  I devoured this one, and loved reading every single chapter.  But stop reading here if you cannot do dystopia, for this is a clever take on that subject, a really good "what if".  Around the internet I can see that this is a marmite book - mostly because this is not a heavy duty dystopia, it's not like McCarthy's The Road, King's The Stand and many others.  But for me, that was the whole point.... a quiet novel set in a boring place, with ordinary people who are getting by just fine.  Until......

Roza lives in a flat in a tower block just outside Birmingham - a part of the UK which is heavily flooded for the winter months.  It is now a very long time since a virus whiped out a majority of the population, and the Government now operates from Brighton.  Some things have remained the same - the internet still works (sort of), some things are very different (no cars, no money).  Roza's family of Mother, Father and four siblings have managed very well - not least because the tower block is empty except for them, and so scope for  scavenging from all the other flats is huge. Roza works on line for a Chinese company; Roza's Mum (Moth) teaches over the internet, and generally they get by and with no other example to go by, seem to have a decent (if a little boring) life. Roza's on-line fiance is on his way by bike from Brighton to Birmingham, sending progress reports on a daily basis.  And then after all this time, a stranger turns up at the flats.  A young charismatic man who tells them all sorts of things....... Can he be trusted?


Wednesday, 23 October 2019

The Trick to Time - Kit de Waal



 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 I found this a very moving read.  I must warn readers that it does contain a short chapter dealing with still-birth and also mention of mental illness.  But these two very serious subjects are part of the whole;  and the whole is a tender, and powerful read that made my heart hurt.  This is the story of Mona's life - from the death of her mother when she was very small, the loss of her father when she was in her early twenties. It's also the story of her early marriage, which didn't last long, and what she has done since, now approaching her 60th birthday.  For a long time she has made clothes for, and painted the faces of, wooden dolls for collectors.  The dolls are made by a carpenter - a lonely man she seems to feel she must keep an eye on as he appears even sadder than she.  There's also a man about her age who likes to meet her for coffee.  She likes him, but wants nothing further from him - though perhaps he wants more from her?

It jumps about in time, but that didn't worry me at all, I wasn't lost in time, although Mona was, and she was not the only one.  I wonder what I would have done in Mona's shoes?  There are clues everywhere about what has happened, and what is still happening.  There are lovely people who support her, make her smile, and generally guide her through life, but there is also a worrying character or two who turn out quite differently than expected.

I think it's a book to read slowly, because every so often a short sentence appears, seemingly meaning little, but actually opening out Mona's life.  One of those short sentences, which appears during a visit to Birmingham just after her birthday to visit her old friend Val as she does every year, was heartbreaking.  The reader will see that Mona is not the only person in the world to have suffered - for different reasons of course - and she doesn't always think kindly of them because of that.  But all those characters make the book what it is, and make Mona's story so much more.  This is certainly one of my top ten books of the year.
 
The Trick to Time (Paperback)

Friday, 18 October 2019

The Good Soldier - Ford Madox Ford






















This is not a thriller you might pick up at the airport prior to a flight.  But you should!  Although of course it depends what you like to read.  I don't read classic literature much.... but again, I don't read "airport thrillers" either.  So perhaps it's a mystery as to why I acquired and read this short novel (200+ pages).

The first thing to say is that this book has a very unreliable narrator and sometimes that makes a read very interesting indeed.  We know at the beginning of the book that this narrator has lost his wife to her "bad heart", and a good friend to a broken heart...... there are several deaths in this book, accidents, suicides, health?  Well, one thing is for sure, none of them are murders.  But that is the only sure thing in the entire read, for as the narrator is so unreliable, he weaves a tale of Gothic proportions, and you may find that from page to page you can't believe a word of it.  You should, though, because in  between the lies characters tell each other, and the unreliability of the narrator's memory (perhaps), there are truths to be untangled, and people's lives to be played with.

This is the story of four friends, who meet at the turn of the 20th century in a spa town in Europe, and remain in each others company for nine years.  It's only as you read on, you find that one or all of them are not as first described, none of them are likeable and there are secrets a-plenty.  Eventually they are all revealed, but you will be half way through before the pennies start to drop!

Despite it's "of the time" language (written in 1905 and published in 1915), this is a clever book, and a real page turner.  But ...... keep your wits about you at all times, as secrets and lies are revealed, then changed, then dismissed.




Monday, 7 October 2019

Gravetye Beauty and Clematis Wilt

Gravetye Beauty is just the most wonderful clematis.  Not a loud shouty double, but a beautifully formed long bell of a flower which gradually opens and separates into separate petals.  And the colour!

Well.  put one in new this Summer about a week before a really hot spell, but watered it regularly, and also inserted a 12 inch pipe into the soil so that watering was made easier, and that the plant could suck up as and when it needed a drink.  It's a late bloomer, so most of September it was glorious, had grown to about eight feet and was covered in buds and flowers. Then we had a couple of really rainy days and I didn't leave the house.  And when I did? - Gone, all gone, sagging, dead and sorry for itself.  I knew what clematis wilt was, but had never had it in this garden. Looked it up on the internet, and all descriptions fitted.  So now is the time to chop it right down to 12 inches or less (in any case it's group is texensis, so either now or in Spring it should be cut down anyway) and check for dead leaves anywhere in the area.

Ah well, next year perhaps?!!

Image result for clematis gravetye beauty


Sunday, 29 September 2019

Mrs Mac suggests - What to read in OCTOBER 2019


   
Well here we are then at the beginning of Autumn/Fall and the end of September.  It didn't take me very long to decide what I should suggest to you for October, because in my pile of "got to be read soon" books is something that has come along just at the right time;  especially as RenĂ©e Zellweger is receiving plaudits now for her film portrayal of Judy Garland.  I haven't seen it, haven't heard her singing voice either, but I'm prepared to go along with others who say this film is worth seeing. 

However, I don't suggest films to see, I suggest books to read.  So on the subject of  what to read this month, how about reading


A book that although fiction, contains real people

 In that pile, I find I have a new book.  It's the story behind The Wizard of Oz; so I'll be reading:

Finding Dorothy - Elizabeth Letts

  
 

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

The Toy Makers - Robert Dinsdale


 


This is a magic tale, and a book I devoured.  It may sound like and look like a book for children but it isn't.  I'm so glad to have read this one, which will surely be in my top ten reads for 2019. Magic, enchantment, sibling rivalry, the War to end all wars. All of these things are within the pages of this very special book. If you cannot deal with magic realism perhaps not for you. But if you loved Harry Potter ..... you might just like this, even though it's nothing like it. Maybe you just believe in magic - and maybe you are anti-war.  

The toy makers of the title are Papa Jack, a refugee from Eastern Europe and his two sons Emile and Kaspar. They own and run a wonderful toy Emporium in London, a toy shop full of enchantment -  open from the first frost of winter to the first snowdrop of spring every year - a shop full of wonders - every toy made by Papa Jack and his sons. As the book opens we are in the early stages of the Twentieth Century, and a runaway teenage mother-to-be gets a job at the Emporium in 1906.
 
The years go by and we are coming up to WW1.  But that war  was foreshadowed by the war the two brothers were fighting from childhood onwards with toy soldiers which just went on and on into adulthood as the story progressed. So the years pass and WW1 begins. Things will never be the same. I found that part very truthful - that siblings can think they love each other and want the same thing, but as time passes it's not always the case.  And when one of the brothers was turned down by the recruiting officer and the other wasn't at the beginning of WW1, I could see the spitefulness growing.  And I knew there would be difficulties ahead because of that war.

When Papa Jack died, the signal for all out war between the brothers sounded, but really it was very one sided, for one wanted the fight, and the other didn't.  I had a great sadness for Cathy the runaway teen who married one of the brothers, who had a husband returned to her from the war in body but not mind.
All in all, a magical read.  Enchanted by the toys, enjoyed the characters, and loved the Emporium.  But it's also  just the most clever anti-war book.  At every stage the pros and cons of soldiering and warfare step off the pages, and I could see, when a group of soldiers cannot think for themselves they must do as they are told..... but what if they do begin to think for themselves?  Stranger things have happened.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Mrs Mac suggests: What to read in SEPTEMBER 19

Hello there!

This was my mother's favourite time of the year...... the sunlight is glorious, and the mornings have that little chill that you know will warm up later. And it is still Summer, whatever the pumpkin sellers say!  In the UK, Autumn/Fall does not officially start until 22 September.  In my garden I have a lot of orange this year (including tomatoes!), and until recently I didn't ever choose orange for flowers.  Then I acquired a baby rose, and a couple of crocosmia all in lovely shades of peach and orange and I was off!

For the dog days of Summer then,  what shall we read?

How about a little slice of fantasy?  

 Not sci-fi, no wars, no dystopia..... but a fairytale for adults perhaps?  I'm reading  a recommendation from more than one booky friend: 

The Toymakers - Robert Dinsdale



Enjoy the sunny days and crisp mornings, everyone!

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Kitchen makeover in small house - We love it!! PART 3

Continuing on from Part 2 - and here are the final pics.


We asked for any small spaces to be filled with pull-outs and  the result was 4, dotted around the kitchen.  the smallest three are only  6 inches wide, and the bigger one 12 inches wide.  Hold loads, though!





And who knew you could get coloured fridge freezers without costing a fortune?  We kept our original (white) for a while, but then decided that we could afford to treat ourselves.  These are made by Bosch and the coloured doors are actually giant fridge magnets.  they just stick to the original door - and have a range of colours.  When we went to buy, they had three on special offer, turquoise, raspberry and black with a price reduction, meaning the colour panels were sort of free.  Nice one!
..... and I guess lots of people fancy islands in their kitchens?  Don't be ridiculous in a kitchen this size, darling!  However, this baby console table with added casters and a shelf for the onions and garlic gives us a bit more work top if we need it.  As we already had this (shopping the house!) it was free.





Well I guess my advice to anyone thinking of a new kitchen  is - have the kitchen you want,  not what someone wants to sell you.  Ask for exactly what you want, and if they say they cannot, move on, there is a firm out there who will suit you.  Don't worry about exact matches  - the paint or the tiles will pull it together.  And if you have things around the house or in your existing kitchen that you like and use already -that's OK - see my kettle?  Nothing else in this room is cream, and they certainly don't make that kettle in the colour of the tiles and the wall, so that's fine.  Add your own little touches.  I love my tea caddy with the elephant on top - no-one I know has one of those!  And I love my little Alessi man holding the roll of kitchen paper too (and he was reduced in a sale so I guess not popular round here, but I love him!).  Shop your house, shop the sales.

 So that's our kitchen.  Easy to clean, plenty of storage, and something that doesn't appear in magazines.  We like it.  That's how it should be.  Make your home a place you enjoy, a place you are content in.

PS If you want to see the kitchen before..... have a look at older posts, same title, but PARTS 1 and 2.

Kitchen makeover in small house - We love it!! PART 2


So after the painting, and decluttering, and getting it right, here's what the finished room looks like:
 
So here we are on a gentle tour round our new small space.  We had a British Bake Off oven installed at chest height for comfort.  And the door folds right underneath for ease of access to dishes inside.  No "reaching", no fear of burning!

All the boards at the front are those used most, and they are collected together in an old box that once held just a bottle of wine.  C'mon!... it doesn't all have to be perfect, and this cost nought!




Anthropologie Sale - oh yes!  £10ish each reduced to £1.99 so lush upper knobs at a saving of £90!
We loved the tiles - especially after choosing a selection of square light and dark grey tiles and then them not matching the cupboards.... got a refund, went somewhere we didn't know existed, and found these lovelies!




Remember in Part 1 I showed you a gaping hole under the oven.  What a waste, but the cabinet for these kinds of ovens are a stock size, and you get what it called a "vanity panel" to fill in what's left.  Mmmmmm.  Well - here's that vanity panel attached to a drawer we asked a local carpenter to make for us - more "stuff" has a home!

Go to PART 3 now, following on immediately!

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Kitchen makeover in small house - We love it!! PART 1

Long time coming..... here's our new kitchen!!  But first, as this is Part 1......

This was the old kitchen.
The room was extended by 3 feet so it had been only 9 feet long.  It's still small, 8 feet wide and 12 feet long in total.

You can probably guess that we didn't have enough storage!  All the working tops were covered in "stuff" the rubbish bin was permanently on display, everything was fighting for space.  We had this kitchen for 15 years!

At it's worst.............

we just didn't have enough space to put everything away!!  In this picture, right in the centre above the dishwasher, although you cannot see it, we had two wine boxes side by side with "stuff" in and on top of them!




Moving on, and telling you what went out:

Green cabinet on the right in picture above, in store in our summer house because I love it and want to find it another home.
Trolley under green cabinet, now in summer house awaiting a new owner.
Cooker/Stove now passed on to someone else.
Cream wall cabinets cabinets taken by someone for their workshop.
Waste bin went to a recycling centre

We kept:

The knife rack (top pic on the wall).
Kettle and toaster.
Lots of the "stuff" you can see all over the work tops.
Washing Machine.
Dishwasher.
Extractor.

But before the change, we went to see four different kitchen companies - one was way too expensive for not very much; one was not really quite what we wanted, another we nearly went with - and finally,  not a quarter of a mile from home, we found a new company who worked with us and gave us exactly what we wanted for an affordable price.

And here we are almost at the end result:

The night the kitchen fitter finished, so not yet  Wow!  but nearly.....

Ignore the symbol, this is not a movie, but just a decent pic of the sink and the hob
...and come back tomorrow and see what we did with this bit of spare space

Next post I'll show you wall colour and some close ups of our storage and you can see what you think!

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Anne's House of Dreams - L M Montgomery

This is the 5th in the series about Anne Shirley, the little girl who got sent to Matthew and Marilla's farm at Green Gables by mistake (the had asked for a boy).  She had ginger hair, and never stopped talking.  Written over a period of years, the author also covered Anne's growing up, education, career and marriage.

Anne and her beau, Gilbert Blythe, are married in the garden of Green Gables, and set off for a new life in a small house on the other side of Prince Edward Island, sight unseen by Anne.  Gilbert is taking over a medical practice as a new GP, and rented this house as the retiring doctor is staying on in the home where his practice was.    So Anne and Gilbert arive, and Anne finds that it is indeed (as the romantic she is) her "house of dreams".  Adventures befall her, new friends are made. Some real sadness in this book along with joy, for that is way of things, back then or now.  Having read myself through the series I found I liked this one the best, and as usual there are some great characters.   I loved it, and now it only leaves me Anne of Ingleside (although there are more books about the children if I take a fancy!)

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars - Miranda Emmerson


I surprised myself at how much I enjoyed this at first seemingly light read.  Certainly easy to read (I zipped through this less than 300 page book over a weekend) and totally different; this was a spin on what seemed at first like a murder mystery, but  whilst certainly a mystery  - a good one - it's only possibly a murder - no body can be found however hard the police investigate.  Police procedures in the 1960s were certainly not what they are now and ignorance and abhorrent behaviour was sort of taken for granted.  Set London, An actress disappears.  Totally.  Her dresser Miss Treadway at the theatre is out of a job temporarily because the play was pulled when the lead disappeared and the theatre is dark for a while; and with time on her hands she is quick to try to find her actress. So in her very amateurish way, she starts to investigate the disappearance of Iolanthe Green.  She's only on the front pages for a short while as a dreadful case up North takes over, and suddenly no-one is talking about the missing actress anymore.

But there is much more to this story than the missing actress.  Lies, deceit  and an acutely smart observation on racial issues at that time form only part of the book.  It has a great twisty surprise half way through and a nicely surprising end too.  If, like me, the current explosion of psychological thrillers is not for you, try this one - I recommend it!



   


Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Mrs Mac Suggests - what to read in AUGUST '19

The Day Lilies are almost over;  the roses may pick up since we had a night of rain recently (although we could do with more).  Whilst sitting in the garden reading this week I saw movement from the corner of my eye, and there was a Wren!  The tiny creature dancing about on a brick propped up against the wall of the house - and just for me!  We know they are in the garden, we know they nest at the bottoms of the hedges, but it's rare to see one so close.  A gift just for me.

So talking about reading, what shall we read in August?  I think you need to look on your shelves for

Something with a very odd title!

 Me?  I took off the shelf

Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars - Miranda Emmerson


which I think is odd enough!  Enjoy August, ask for rain (but only at night) and if you are having a holiday - enjoy!




Thursday, 25 July 2019

The Speckled People - Hugo Hamilton



This is a fascinating little memoir of Hamilton's early years.  A "Free Ireland" father, and a German mother, he and his siblings spoke only "Irish" (Gaelic) or German at home, and English when their father was not around to hear them.  At one point he describes some other children playing cowboys and indians in the street, but he could not join in  because cowboys and indians could not possibly be played in the Irish language.....  They were loved and cared for, but during the course of the book various beatings were meted out by their father for not speaking Irish:  he even made his own life difficult by wanting to make a little more money than his job paid and various schemes were put into practice.  Most failed because of his insistence of only dealing with people who would pronounce his Gaelic name properly (and most couldn't).   His mother, a gentle soul with a dark secret, came to Ireland after WW2 and only rarely went back to visit family and friends in Germany and was homesick for long periods of time.

There are some nice little insights into recent history here - how non-Nazi supporters had to act during Hitler's rule, and how kind those people tried to be if they could.  His mother referred to the Nazis as "the fist people" and it's easy to see why.  Then there was the building of the Berlin Wall - up in the 1960s, gone by the late 1980s; and the blowing up of Nelson's column in Dublin.  I found some parts rather harrowing, but Hamilton has such a wonderful writing style here that I found it quite magical too.








Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man - Fanny Flagg

When Daisy Fay and her parents move to Shell Beach, Mississippi, she starts a diary, and you'll find out lots of things about Daisy Fay's family, her Father's drinking, her Mother's disappointment in him, and Daisy Fay's life.  She's eleven, and Flagg has captured the mind of an eleven year old so well.  She's funny.  She's a tomboy.  She hates maths, and why shouldn't she?!  Her Father has raised money to buy a half share in a fast food and drink establishment on the beach, and he has loads of ideas about making money down there in the South.  It's no surprise that the ice cream freezer is soon full of road kill and the like, because one of those schemes involves taxidermy from a "teach yourself" course.  And no, it wasn't a success!

She's a brave kid, always the optimist. It's not too long, after many rows and makeups, that her Mother leaves, and Daisy Fay becomes even more independent.  Her father drinks even more, invites "women friends" to stay the night and at the end of the first year the business has made a loss.  Her life is described as though she was talking to you, a friend she had just met, and in the most part you will laugh out load (a lot!).  But you will also have a great deal of sympathy for this tomboy who does not quite fit anywhere with  her specs and chipped tooth, and there is a nice balance of pathos too.

Along the way she looses her Mother, her dog, eventually the cat, but she makes some really good friends, and a couple of enemies too, and by the time the book ends she is eigheen and life has a surprise in store for Daisy Fay. I have enjoyed every one of Fannie Flagg's books and this is no exception.

Recommended except for this new cover..... she's a tomboy!  Jeans or shorts and a Tshirt - under no circumstances a cute gingham dress with puffy sleeves and neat hair. 


Sunday, 14 July 2019

Large White Butterfly..... Dorset Garden July 2019

 

 Not my picture, taken in fact from the British Butterflies site, this is a female Large White.  Saw her hovering over the lavender last week. I never have my camera in the garden at the right time!

 But my garden is very low on butterflies and moths this year, sadly.  I wonder if the birds are eating them? I'd expect to see several species by now, but only one in May and one in July so far seems too little by far.

Friday, 5 July 2019

We Hope for Better Things - Erin Bartels

Some books you feel lucky you found, don't you?  I belong to an on-line quarterly book club, and this was the choice recently.  I had never heard of it, and a member who had read it passed it on to me.  I read all sorts of things, but like of us all I do enjoy a story that encourages you onwards with "just another page/chapter - or two/three/four!"

We Hope For Better Things has three separate time lines - The American Civil War, the Detroit Riots in the 1960s and today.  The leading characters are all women, Mary during the Civil War, Nora in the 1960s and Elizabeth today, who tells you this complicated but so cleverly linked story.  Can love overcome everything?  I think we always hope so, but it isn't always the case, and then again, sometimes life conspires to find us in the wrong place and then it isn't plain sailing.  This is a book about three women who don't necessarily get the happy ending they started out wishing for.  Bartel's understanding of race and prejudice makes this a book worth reading, because each woman is different, each lives in a different time and each has a major problem which haunts them.  The sense of history is given in glimpsed descriptions of the times but we are made to understand that in the case of Mary and Nora, society at large often conspires against us.  Secrets are revealed slowly and surely as the pages are turned.  Warning - don't read the last paragraph  before you start, but read it twice when you finish!

I know this description of the book is rather vague, but reader, if you are intrigued, I want you to discover this one yourself because for me it really was a wonderful read.



Sunday, 30 June 2019

Mrs Mac Suggests - What to read in July '19

We've had a little hot spell here in the South-West of England, and yesterday I spent most of the day in the garden reading!  So that urged me onwards to look for something suitable for Summer reading, and I found one on my shelves,

and I am suggesting  A book connected with a garden

That should give you some scope - even if the only one you can think of is Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden - but honestly, there are loads.  I'm going to read:

All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West


This is not about gardening, but the author was a gardener.  Sissinghurst is one of the most famous gardens in England, and it was she who designed it and worked on it.
So enjoy your garden - on paper or sitting in it, or both.  Happy July! 

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Brodeck - Philippe Claudel






Brodeck returns home from a POW camp, where he escaped death by pretending to be a dog, agreeing to be put on a collar and lead and be led around the camp on all fours, and to sleep with other dogs in the kennels at night.  He dreams of home, his village, and his beautiful wife, and at the end of the war he is able to leave the camp and start for home.

To a village he knows.  To a wife who does not speak.  To a daughter. And gradually we find out many things about Brodeck and his village, for he is asked to write a report for the mayor about a dreadful happening in the village.  He's writing the report, and he's telling his own story at the same time.  Gradually things are revealed;  things which were mentioned early on in his story but didn't make sense at first.  And we are witnessing the human race at it's worst, it's inhumanity to others when life should be so much better.  Gruelling and hard to read, nevertheless this beautifully written book may break your heart, and make you understand how easily bigotry and hatred can be conjured out of nowhere.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Music - Collecting and Disposing of same! 1. A little touch of Schmilsson in the Night

 I'm on a roll!  I'm sorting out and disposing of things I no longer want and this includes music.  Collecting stuff for so many years, I find there are lots of albums (vinyl and CD) that I no longer want to listen to.  Many of these were bought when I was running 4 quiz nights a year in a place I worked.  They were great compilation albums for quiz rounds like "Name the Intro"  "Where does this guitar riff come from?" and so on.  But I don't need them now, and most can be had for a few quid on the Internet - so I am sending them to the charity shop and maybe someone else will find pleasure in them and the charity shop will make money.

But guess what I found?  I found that I don't like noise but I do like music!!

I like, in no particular order, a good voice, or a good interpreter of a song, or a brilliant musician, or a brilliant tune, or clever lyrics; and I got to thinking about desert island discs..... which records I would take?  But it's hard to break down the music you love into ten only, especially when the entire album is a stroke of genius.



Here's one I have come back to again, and again - A Little Touch Of Schmilsson In The Night - Harry Nilsson.  I can't choose a track - I'd have to take the whole album.  It was never a best seller, yet here it is, wonderful as ever and one of my forever favourites.  When someone asked Michael Buble why he kept singing "old" songs, he told them that they were not old, just good.  That's how I feel about  Nilsson's interpretations on here.  Go on, give it a listen.

And then, you might like to listen to another couple of albums -

Borderline - Ry Cooder (completely different but just as wonderful)
Mi Tierra - Gloria Estevan (and never mind that it's sung in Cuban Spanish... just open your ears).

I think I'll make this a regular post - and you can always suggest albums to me - I will listen and comment, honestly!)



Early One Morning - Virginia Baily

I was attracted to this novel purely by the cover (as I suppose this is meant to happen!) and it has very little about the contents on the b...