Monthly Archives: December 2007

Our Christmas presents, unwrapped

My Christmas present and I have been banished from the living room. The others got out a dvd to watch, and I just wasn’t allowed to remain with the book I was reading snippets from; A Slip of the Pen, The Writers’ Book of Blunders. I managed to read one or two quick quotes out loud before I dissolved into such uncontrollable laughter that I was kicked out. Just one quote. “She picked up a snapshot of a dear friend who had recently died on her bedroom mantelpiece.”

Otherwise the most used book present has been Daughter’s Games For Parties, which has a lovely 1950s feel to it. There’s no date anywhere, so we’re just guessing. The games are slightly out of date and somewhat unsuited to people of today, but we’ve already had a good hour or so playing some of the games. London tube stations haven’t changed much, but London shops have. Still fun to discover what you can guess.

Some of you may be surprised to hear what a lovely gift can be made from what’s on your right as you read this. Someone very resourcefully came up with a present based on my categories, which I feel takes some doing. You know who you are, so a big THANK YOU.

The good thing about having presents on Christmas Eve is that on Christmas day we can sleep in. Only a stocking to deal with, which can be done at any time. Then no fixed engagements until dinner in the evening.

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Advent completed

Well, I managed it after all. The Advent reading is complete, and I didn’t need to cheat once.

The Christmas Mystery was well worth reading and a very Decemberish read. I have learnt a lot from the travelling through Europe and through time. I nearly feel as if I, too, stepped through the opening to the stable to see the crying baby within.

So “God Jul” everyone.

Noughts & Crosses on the stage

I had hoped to mention this earlier, but better late than never. The RSC are putting Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses on the stage this winter. It’s already on in Stratford, and will remain for a month or so longer. It will then go on a short tour. See if it’s anywhere near you, because this sounds very good.

On 26th January Malorie will appear for a talk before the matinee, which should also be interesting. I can’t see how I will fit this in, but would really like to. There is a warning the play isn’t suitable for young children, and I suppose neither are the books. (When School Friend’s daughter E came to stay with us we fed her a diet of Noughts & Crosses, because she likes books to be really miserable. Malorie’s books suited E perfectly.)

So, if panto isn’t for you – try Stratford instead. The combination of Malorie and the RSC sounds unbeatable.

Re-visiting the French Revolution

I quite enjoy the cheap first class train tickets you can buy for some train journeys. It makes me think how nice it’d be to have the kind of money that would allow first class travel at all times. And when I’ve got that far, I always think of the French revolution. I think of eating cake, and heads rolling, and that sort of thing.

Plenty of both in Sally Gardner’s The Red Necklace, which I finally read after hearing nothing but enthusiastic comments from her colleagues and others. It’s set right in the midst of the revolution, and brought me straight back to my childhood, when I lived off books and films of this kind. I’m glad to see the genre isn’t dead.

There’s much death in this story and a lot of brutality. Masses of blood, and a lot that smells bad. As she says in her background notes, Sally has studied many books on the subject, and it shows. I’m sure it’s both more violent than, and more realistic than, say The Scarlet Pimpernel or The Three Musketeers (yes I know; wrong period, right place, same feel), and it’s a great continuation of that type of tale.

The Red Necklace is a very romantic, old style story about a boy and a girl, wonderful friendships and an extremely bad baddie. It’s set in both Paris and London and has some colourful characters and interesting background in the theatre and also on gypsy life.

The physical book is beautiful, too. Lovely cover and attractive maps of Paris. Each chapter begins with a paragraph set in a different size and colour font, which adds to the pleasure of just looking at the book.

I sincerely hope this is a trend, with lots more of my childhood type books turning up. I’d almost forgotten how much I loved these kinds of stories, and I feel sorry for Offspring who so far have missed out on much in this genre. Time to force some more books, I reckon. Two weeks over Christmas might do it.

Christmas cards

A friend of mine declined reading something I’d written about Philip Pullman. She said she knew nothing about him, so had looked him up. On finding he’s “anti God”, she decided not to read anything either by him, or by me about him. As for me, I decided not to try and persuade her that she might be wrong.

So, I was interested to find that not only does Philip send Christmas cards, but he sends “religious” ones at that. I hasten to add I’m not on his Christmas card list. Yet.

Some years ago I found that Daughter had included some authors in her list of people to be emailed her special Christmas greeting. You know, the sort of greeting that is most suited to girls of about twelve. I hastily emailed the authors concerned to apologise. Turns out they’re either very tolerant and polite, or find it good from a research point of view to see what young girls write. I was told they’d received far more “interesting” emails from elsewhere. So, that’s OK, then.

Here is my Christmas card to all of you. I’m not taking a break, but I’d just like to wish you all a Happy Christmas, and thanks for reading my blog.

Christmas Tree ASC

Picture by Anna-Stina Carlsson

More money for Dina, please

I see over on Dina Rabinovitch’s blog that people are still adding comments from time to time. A recent one asked us to try and reach Dina’s target of £100,000 before the sponsorship runs out on the 8th January. That seems like a good idea, and if you’re still wondering whether to buy someone something big and expensive that they don’t need, now is a good time to re-route that money. If you click on the link to Dina here, her blog has a direct link to the fundraising site. There’s “only” £5000 to go, so with a bit of effort we might even overshoot the target.

There’s also Dina’s book Take Off Your Party Dress that would fit quite well in people’s stockings.

Faking it

Do you remember my woe regarding unstable piles of books earlier? I even published a photo to prove what a charming library I have. Needless to say, the necessary time to sort books out for Oxfam hasn’t materialised. Yet.

Mother-in-law is coming for Christmas. I don’t know what is worse, having a witch for a daughter-in-law, or having to sleep in the library. I need to deal with some of the piles, now, or risk injury to our guest.

I’m addicted to good house magazines. In one of them, I recently found a new “interesting” wallpaper. It’s a pile of books. And I believe the price is something like €55 for one metre. Who’d want to artificially make their room look untidy, with fake books? It’s like buying jeans already faded, worn and torn.

Wallpaper -

(The thing I can never stop myself doing, is to check the pattern repeat. Once you see where the same book turns up again, next to another book which is also the same… I’d go mad.)