Monthly Archives: July 2008

Pieces of Meg

Here is the photo, which makes this make more sense. I stumbled across the link yesterday, but it was a little surreal without the illustrations. And as I get out so late these days to buy my paper copy of the paper, it was a while till I got to see what Meg Rosoff was describing.

Meg's things

Interesting. Not sure about the wine jugs. Still covet the little house, a bit. And very nice to see the young Meg.


The DVD, and more Roman Mysteries on television

I am running out of titles for my “Roman Mysteries on television” ramblings.

Daughter and I were enjoying a leisurely browse in Heals on Tuesday, when she suddenly said that if we got the little bus now, we could catch the train and be home in time for the Roman Mysteries live. (I had set the video to record. I’m not that careless.) So we did. I even had time to put the kettle on for a much needed Earl Grey to go with it.

This time it was book number six, which was odd, as last time it was book eight. But maybe they know what they are doing? Thankfully they appear to have found us an Aristo, which will help no end with future plot developments. And if you are wondering; Flavia really was badly behaved in this episode of The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina. What I keep forgetting between each viewing, is the music, which is very imposing and powerful.

Roman Mysteries DVD 1

Afterwards we settled down with the new DVD of series one, and revisited The Secrets of Vesuvius yet again. Also had a little look at the extras you get with the DVD. You can tell how fast the child actors are growing, as they felt positively young in episode one, compared with today’s. And Pliny is always worth seeing.

Daughter must have been in a real Roman Mysteries mood, as she sheepishly asked if we could watch another episode before bed. The witch had things to do, but magnanimously allowed her young one to watch the aftermath of Vesuvius.                                                                       Obsessive.

I’ve been Framed!

When my three books by Frank Cottrell Boyce arrived, I had to make an executive decision where to start. Time was short, before Frank came here. I went for Framed. But a couple of chapters in, I came across this blogger who felt that Cosmic was far better than Frank’s other books, and in particular Framed. So, I switched. Time was short, as I said. And Cosmic is very good. I’ve already said here how much I liked it.

But that was before Framed. Wow! What a story. This is truly a masterpiece, and sorry about the unintentional pun. Frank is dangerously close to becoming a top favourite of mine, if this is what he’s going to be like.

Framed is The Curious Incident if Terry Pratchett wrote it. Just to give you an idea, because it was Frank Cottrell Boyce who wrote Framed, and it’s very, very funny. There’s been this constant little smile on my face while I’ve been reading, and I’m trying to understand how Frank can cram so much funny, but still serious, stuff into one book. Into every page. There is none of the “I’m waiting for a more interesting page, again” kind of reading.

I always used to think that the description of the young boy in Wales who lives in a petrol station and who decides to steal a Van Gogh, sounded too strange, and who’d want to read about it? This is an art lesson of the best kind, and a travel guide to Snowdonia. I’m also wondering if this can count as an Aspie book. I don’t know about Dylan, though he might well be, but Tom and his Ninja Turtles definitely are. Dylan’s petrol diary reads like a trainspotters poetry book.

Some of the early details in the story seem quite random , to use a Dylan kind of word, but they are all put to good use by the end of the book. Quavers, Elvis, the blind old neighbour, The Italian Job. They all fit in. And Framed will make a marvellous film.

Read and laugh. Feel better afterwards.

Tall Ship

Well, I suppose you could say it was the witch’s incredible writing skills that took her and the Resident IT Consultant to the Statsraad Lehmkuhl last night. And, no, the name is almost as incomprehensible to me as it is to you. It’s a tall ship, a three-masted barque, I understand. I’d call it a boat. What I’m trying to say is that this has nothing to do with books.

When the envelope from the Norwegian embassy arrived, I did that annoying thing people do in books; turn it round wondering what it could possibly be, rather than open it. I decided it had better be an invitation from the ambassador. And it was! He was throwing a party on board the Statsraad Lehmkuhl in Liverpool for the Tall Ships Race.


So, we went. In fact it wasn’t the great writing skills that took me. It was the family car, and it did so with difficulty, and let me tell you there are countless ways of getting lost in a Liverpool with diversions. But the first man we stopped to ask, knew we wanted the Malmaison car park without us saying a word. So it ended weller than it should have.


The boat was teeming with Norwegians and a small scattering of us other Nordics being tolerated for the day. The food was wonderful! Masses of fish, and all of the highest quality. The Resident IT Consultant felt under dressed until he saw all the Norwegian knitted cardigans worn by those in the know. He should have worn his fake one.

When the band struck up The Leaving of Liverpool, we took the hint and went home.

The brilliant writing that I mentioned earlier is that piece I wrote in Dagens Nyheter (leading Swedish paper) about the threats to the Scandinavian church. People are easily impressed, I can tell you. My latest technique when receiving compliments, is to agree completely with whoever I’m talking to. But whether this will help save the church is still uncertain.

V I excerpt

There’s a marvellous excerpt here from Sara Paretsky’s next V I Warshawski novel. And it looks so good. But also bad, from a point of view of the state of things in the US right now, but we shouldn’t expect any different from Sara.

Sara Paretsky

It looks like what Sara told me about the next book, when we met in March, is right on track.    V I goes back to the past, and she has a new helper in the shape of a young relative.

Sara is being a good girl, and staying at home this summer, in order to write. That’s what we like.

And while you’re at it, check out her website. It’s one of the best looking ones I’ve seen, and I’d love for it to be mine, in more ways than one.


Flightsend by Linda Newbery is a summery book. Linda often does summers, and she does them well. I just can’t decide whether I would have liked to read Flightsend in the winter, when I could have dreamed of summers in the countryside, or if it’s better now that it is summer – supposedly – and I can get in the mood. But I don’t have the weather and I don’t have the countryside, and I mind. Dreadfully.


This is an old new book, i.e. it’s just been re-issued, which is a good thing, as I didn’t read it before. There’s a nice, soothing, calm feeling to Linda’s stories. Not much happens, in a way, but it doesn’t need to. In this case it’s about Charlie and her Mum, who move to the cottage called Flightsend, out in the country, just before Charlie sits her GCSEs.

They’ve had some bad things in their lives recently, and this is a new start. They adopt a stray lurcher, and Charlie finds a part time job. She deals with her Mum’s problems, and with some of her own. Things work out in the end, though not necessarily quite as you expect. I’m very grateful that the pond didn’t cause what I thought would be inevitable, as I was mentally holding my breath.

It’s a day-to-day kind of story, told in a charming way.

Peak District crime

When interviews are like buses and come in threes, the similarities are even greater, as the interviews will inevitably run late. This is what happened to Stephen Booth after his chat with the witch, weeks ago in Bristol. I hope it will have been worth the wait. Stephen is a very nice man to talk to, and he laughs a lot. And he writes very enjoyable crime novels, which I can heartily recommend. Rural noir is the term, and exactly how hard or softboiled that is, I will leave you to decide for yourselves. And I’ll point out here and now that it is not the witch who is the number one fan. You’ll soon understand why.