Tag Archives: Christmas

My 2012 Book Blog Card

I have the impression that dusty books posing with a lit candle or two is all the rage this year. So here is my personal interpretation of the new style Christmas decorating.


Christmas card

Dangerous, but attractive. (In other words, rather like me.)



My comment in yesterday’s review about ‘free’ travelling for more people – preferably for all people – is something I have long believed in. OK, so ‘opening’ your borders might allow a few undesirables in, but I reckon they get in anyway. It’s the desirables who are kept out, because someone is under the impression their own lives will be better and safer for it.

Look at me! Or rather, look at the United Kingdom! Is it any worse off for having allowed me entry? I’d like to think not. Although they did their utmost best even towards a ‘nice white witch’ like me.

I liked this country, and I still do. I used to come here as often as I could squeeze the piggybank for the price of another ticket. The last few years before the Resident IT Consultant made me legal I used to come about six times a year. And that involved increasingly closer contact with the black book.

The immigration officers used to have this enormous family bible type of book next to them, into which they looked without fail whenever I attempted to enter the country. Black book = blacklist. Obvious. They always seemed disappointed I wasn’t in it.

However attractive you might think it is to be able to speak a foreign (to you) language well, it’s not good under such circumstances. It indicates you have spent too much time somewhere you aren’t supposed to have been. Hence the suspicion.

The way the book was used was similar to how Santa’s helper in Disney’s film checked if you were allowed what you had asked for in your letter to FC. Eat enough spinach, and you’re OK. I love spinach, and that will be why they always let me in.

Post Office Tower

I thought nothing of it. I knew they had to do their bit, and I did my bit. Then we could both be satisfied. I must have told the Resident IT Consultant about the black book, as you do when you run out of more meaningful things to base a conversation on.

He probably thought nothing of it, until some 15 years into my legality, when he happened to consult for the Home Office. He mentioned the black book and my experience with it. ‘How do you even know about the book?’ they asked.

It seems the big black book is/was a secret. (Like the Post Office Tower, I suppose.) You’re not meant to know it’s there, and the reading of it could have done with more inconspicuousness applied. Whether they didn’t know, were unable to or simply couldn’t be bothered, I have no idea. But large family bibles are hard to hide under your desk.

Pieces of Poirot

Poirot falling to pieces was a novelty. I’ll give them that. But the consensus in these parts seemed to be that we prefer a slightly saner Poirot, and if the murderers can be more cheerful as they go about their business that would not be a bad thing. At least if it’s Murder on the Orient Express, and they are almost justified, and they get to travel on that great train.

David Suchet, Murder on the Orient Express

But it must have been the justification that had the screenwriter in a twist. It wouldn’t be pc to allow murderers to get away with it (although it seems to be in vogue in real courts, here and now), so we need to have Poirot all religious and with flashback to a possible mistake made earlier, as well as putting the current murderers in context with the stoning of an adulteress.

It is a very Christmassy Christie, what with the snow and all. Considerably more ‘current news’ than they could possibly have hoped for, as well. Trains stuck. Cold trains. Bad customer service. Ineffective digging in snow drifts. Almost British. The period feel is good, and the train is lovely.

But we don’t want Poirot falling to pieces. He didn’t in the ‘old’ film, nor, as far as I recall, did he in the book. When did he become a catholic, or at least, so overtly religious? As the film began Daughter muttered that she hoped they weren’t going to change who did it. A bit hard with this scenario, but it began to look as if they’d change Poirot’s decision at the end.

Was it just me, or had much of the casting been done by someone who knew exactly what each character should look like, as defined by the old film?

And was this intended as Poirot’s last case? If so, I suppose he’s allowed to go round the bend somewhat. As Son pointed out, everyone was so very angry.

Murder on the Orient Express 2010

(This post co-published with CultureWitch)