Wednesday August 31, 2016
Books in August
- Dandy Gilver and A Bothersome Number of Corpses, A Deadly Measure
of Brimstone, The Reek of Red Herrings, by Catriona McPherson
I have to come to terms with the fact that they are not going to produce any more audio versions of these books - so I caught up with the next 3 as holiday reading.
As wonderful (to me anyway) as ever, I particularly enjoyed Brimstone; the author writing in what I believe to be her best mode, brilliantly evoking not only time but also quite wonderfully exploring a (now) lost place.
- A Gladiator Dies Only Once by Steven Saylor
The second anthology of Gordianus short stories (2005).
- The Consul's Wife - 77 BC
- If a Cyclops Could Vanish in the Blink of an Eye -77 BC
- The White Fawn - 76 BC
- Something Fishy in Pompeii - 75 BC
- Archimedes' Tomb - 75 BC
- Death by Eros - 75 BC
- A Gladiator Dies Only Once - 73 BC
- Poppy and the Poisoned Cake - 70 BC
- The Cherries of Lucullus - 64 BC
- Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson [read by Simon
As I mentioned last month - I took this as one of two books to occupy me while driving to Cambridge for my weaving course, but in fact the journey was not long enough for both and I listened to this on my return.
It was excellent - quite a long way further into the series from my last reading and as I suspected Banks has moved on in his personal life so not miles away from TV-Banks now - although as conincidentally discussed with our weaving tutor - Stephen Tompkinson is a great actor but definitely not book-Banks. [In my normal way of recasting impossibly - I would choose a very young Martin Shaw for this role.]
Gideon Fell - To Wake the Dead
A 1997 two-part dramatisation of John Dickson Carr's 1938 thriller by Peter Ling: The Riddle of the Stone, and The Secret of the Stone. Charmingly dated, of course.
Stars Donald Sinden as Doctor Gideon Fell, John Hartley as Supt. Hadley, Richard Johnson as Sir Giles Gray, Wendy Craig as Melita Reaper, John Rowe as Dan Reaper and Tracy-Ann Oberman as Francine Forbes. Directed by Enyd Williams.
By contrast - not at all charming and dated.
An excellent piece of radio drama - which I should not but do rather take for granted with Maxine Peake.
Produced by Justine Potter -a Red Production Company production for BBC Radio 4.
Posted on August 31, 2016 at 6:43 AM. Category: Books of the Month.
Sunday August 28, 2016
We are in France for the Bank Holiday weekend, and it was Lloyd's birthday. I seemed unable to take any decent photos (everyone would keep moving around!) so here he is sharing a joke with his Mother-in-Law while his sister brings a suitably large cake.
Later on Lisa and I set the world to rights by the pond - the reason for the looks of consternation is we were watching the kids ("young adults" - an in fact also some rather older adults) swimming and horsing around. Drowning seemed a real possibility....
And a couple of other views while we were there. The mackerel sky about sums up the weather we experienced - and I weeded, dug out, and replaced the edging around, what is left of the flower bed in front of the kitchen (where the door used to be).
Friday August 19, 2016
An interesting evening out - and were the Mill at Sonning a bit closer to home I might venture there a little more often. As it is it's quite a way to go.
The evening included a pre-theatre meal and we met up with some old colleagues and friends whom I had not seen for ages which was fun.
The theatrical performance was interesting - rather larger than life and in truth projected slightly too much for the space - which was fairly intimate. I liked it for the set and staging which were meant to be a tongue in cheek look at Agatha Christie in theatre. I really liked this review in the Telegraph which rather said it all; it is I suppose a moderately negative review but emphasises that the play is staged as being "from a simpler time" - and the comment that it features "the least convincing death you'll see onstage this year" is not as damning as it sounds since I am absolutely certain it was meant to have everyone rolling in the aisles otherwise it could all easily have happened off-stage.
I suspect I have read the book but cannot remember it. What I do remember is the fairly excellent TV dramatisation which included Poirot (as written in the book), while Christie's stage play version excluded him. This stage version is apparently closer to the book than the TV version where the murderer is a very sympathetic character and the entire situation created by the victim around all the characters has great poignancy and almost the qualities of a theatrical "tragedy" about it.
Posted on August 19, 2016 at 6:02 PM. Category: Art and Culture.
Saturday August 13, 2016
Deep Blue Sea
I was dubious about seeing this play - I bought tickets as it is the National and with a great cast and reviews it seemed a good thing to do. However I thought that although it might be great art it would be too sad for me to really enjoy.
What I was forgetting was that this is Rattigan who achieved great popularity back in the day for a very good reason. The play was very accessible and stunningly acted. The characters had you with them through all the distress and poignancy (and even real humour) to what was a very uplifting ending without sacrificing any of the realism of the plot.
So really fantastic performances from all and I am so glad that I did not talk myself out of it.
Posted on August 13, 2016 at 5:50 PM. Category: Art and Culture.
Saturday August 6, 2016
We went on a day trip to Rye. (I am somewhat embarrassed to say it was in order to pick up a 4 shaft Harris loom that I bought immediately after my weaving course - whoever would have predicted that?! More on that another day perhaps; for now, suffice to say it's lovely).
Anyway we made of it a good "day out", visiting Lamb House, which is most prominently celebrated by the National Trust (quite rightly) as a home of the author Henry James. In fact my, and most of the population's, interest in it is due to its other literary resident: E F Benson. If he were not already a firm part of popular culture, interest in him was rekindled by the most recent TV series of "Mapp and Lucia" - for which they used Lamb House. Good though the series was, for me no dramatisation can top the 1980s series with Geraldine McEwan, Prunella Scales, Nigel Hawthorne and co - it was also set in Rye though they staged the interior shots in the studio. For the recent series they actually rebuilt (mocked up) the "Garden Room" at Lamb House as the original was destroyed by a bomb in WW2.
The recreation was more like a conservatory extension on the back of the house, unlike the original which was separate from the main house and entered only via the garden. As Benson (and James) used it as his writing room he imagined Mapp doing most of her spying, from its large bay window, which had a view right down the street. You can see that Lamb House is on a corner so the Garden Room was oriented at right angles to, and to the left of, the main front of the house.
After a splendid (and huge) crab salad lunch at Fletchers House. we went on to Scotney Castle - another National Trust property. We toured the house ... where ridiculously enough I was most impressed by the 1950s kitchen that the last inhabitant had installed and used as her main living area.... and the gardens - but in the end failed to find room for a cream tea despite adventures including sliding down banks in the quarry garden and lost sunglasses.
Finally, for our last act of tourism, I persuaded G to stop off again on the way home to see the Chagall windows at Tudeley. Always a wonderful experience.
Sunday July 31, 2016
Books in July
- The Original Inspector George Gently Collection by Alan
My colleague Tony recommended I try these and I did find them enjoyable. Quite different from the TV series - it's hard to imagine book-Gently as any other than an old man - however I don't think that's actually true it's just that the era is the 1960s and I was a child then so all adult detectives were going to be avuncular old men [No Hiding Place with Raymond Francis etc]. In truth I suppose TV-Gently in the shape of Martin Shaw* is in fact an old man - he just doesn't seem to be for one of my age now! This is the first two stories in one edition Gently Does It and Gently by the Shore - there is also an omnibus available with the first 4 books. Hunter makes a statement at the start of the book that the stories are not meant to be "whodunnits" so don't complain.... In fact I found them quite intriguing enough for all that.
* I recently saw Martin Shaw as Dalgliesh in the first of the two PD James stories he recorded around 2003. I thought it was excellent even though I was keen on Roy Marsden in the role. The two stories are connected so it made sense to make them of a piece in this way. [Frustratingly missed the second one - hopefully not too long before another repeat even though they were screened at 2 am.....].
- Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama [translated by Jonathan Lloyd-Davies]
A totally fascinating book - not only a good thriller with an interesting and very (I feel) Japanese explanation of the mystery at the end, but also seemingly a real insight into Japanese life. Throughout, the hero has a very sad personal situation to deal with and I was sorry that (like in real life) was not resolved. However, a lot of the story is very political, and maybe simply a "police procedural" but it's made so much more interesting to me because it is written by a Japanese person, not from an outsider's view. I suppose it may not relate to real policing any more than any other stories I read ("you've got 24 hours to solve it or you're off the case") but I loved all the incidental social interactions showing the paramount importance of manners, respect, and not losing face. I did think that I would have trouble getting to grips with the different characters - I am a lazy reader and my eye skates over names; there was a pretty big cast list with a predominance of names starting with M closely followed by Y - but in fact I managed quite well.
I was alerted to this book by the iKnit Book Group (first Tuesday of every month) - too late to meet with them by the time I'd read it sadly - and I never seem to have the time to get up there..... maybe one day....
[PS Helen thought the title might be a football score - it isn't]
- The Blue Afternoon by William Boyd
This was an impulse purchase ex-Surrey library (3 for 2 - how could I resist?).
I always like this author and I'm not sure why I don't read more. I guess they are always a little too poignantly sad overall. However, with this one, (as ever), I was totally gripped by the writing and the plot. Even in the opening chapters I was totally heartbroken (or maybe sick with frustration) alongside our heroine - an architect - as a wonderful building is destroyed out of sheer malice and spite. And that's only the set up to the real tale....
- Aftermath by Peter Turnbull [read by ]
OK I may have said before - not my favourite author - so... why? Well, terrible enough that I read the first one of his books by mistake (Peter Lovesey/Peter Tremayne) - but I did the same thing AGAIN this time. More excusable though - I selected two Peter Robinson talking books to keep me amused on my trip to Cambridge - and in one choice I was correct but I quickly discerned that this Aftermath was the right title but not the right author!
Unfortunately I found it as dire as ever and never got as far as listening to the actual DCI Banks story until I got home. [And after all that, the murderers were not brought to justice! How bad is that? really!].
- When the Devil Drives by Christopher Brookmyre [read
Finally got round to listening to the 2nd book in this trilogy - the middle one - I read them out of order. Again another author I really like, although I think maybe these books about Jasmine Sharp may not be his dramatically strongest or most side-splittingly funny.
Several days after having listenend to the epilogue - where things were wrapped up - I realised what the last sentence ("she was not her sister") actually meant. I had imagined it meant not the same character as her sister instead of which it was (clearly even if not to me) literal.
Now you will have to read it...
A Bullet at Balmain's - A Noel Coward Mystery
Marcy Kahan's Noel Coward playing the sleuth in post-Liberation Paris, this time. It's 1948 and Coward is in Paris to play the lead in his own play 'Present Laughter' - in French - which is amusing enugh of itself. Add in haute couture, existentialism, jazz . . .
Stars Malcolm Sinclair as Noel Coward, with Eleanor Bron and Tam Williams as his devoted staff.
Posted on July 31, 2016 at 11:57 PM. Category: Books of the Month.
We went to see Startrek Beyond in 3D. First visit to the iMax. Excellent.
Posted on July 31, 2016 at 10:30 PM. Category: Art and Culture.