Bring up the Books

First and foremost…

Bloody well done to Hilary Mantel! I was so pleased that she won the Booker Prize for Bring up the Bodies (see an earlier post some weeks ago if you want the link as I put in there, mind you the time it’s taken me to write this bit I might as well have linked to it, but you really should know how to find it without a link), her fabulous sequel to Wolf Hall. It is nice to see decent literature lauded, rather than a book being snatched off the shelves because it mentions the word ‘clitoris’. (Which has always sounded like the name of one of Shakespeare’s heroines. But anyway.)

This evening Matthew I’ve mostly been Lounging. I am not known for relaxing, and decided to get some Loungewear specifically to encourage this. I tend to come home from work, go back out to work, go to the gym, come home, wash up, and Do Stuff until it’s time to put my pajamas on. So, courtesy of Gap, I decided to Lounge this evening (after coming home from work, going to the gym, then going to work, then coming home, then eating supper, then washing up). I bought some ‘lounge pants’ in subtle hues of grey and plum, and a snuggly grey vest and some shapeless ribbed tops, and very nice they are too. I know this is going to sound really knobby but the clothes REALLY made me chill out. They are close-fitting but very comfortable and of silky, slippery fabric that makes me feel a bit like a slow worm (a relax one). Dressed thus, one cannot help but sit in the lotus position on the sofa, light a scented candle and contemplate life.

Unfortunately as far as life goes I have little to contemplate or report. The only remotely interesting thing wot has happened recently is that I realised I really needed a reading diary, as I began reading The Queen’s Agent eagerly one evening, only to realise by page seven that I’d read it a few months back. Poor Sir Francis Walsingham! He really was much more interesting than this particular paragraph will have you believe. I turned instead to The German Trauma by Gitta Sereny. She is quite an extraordinary writer, IM humble O anyway, particularly with her two books on the case of Mary Bell which were quite groundbreaking: The Case of Mary Bell and later Cries Unheard are thought-provoking, horrifying, and heart-breaking, and turned my thoughts about Mary Bell (and the young boys who killed James Bulger) on their head (if one can turn thoughts on their heads). The German Trauma is about different reactions and admissions to and about the Holocaust, and is eye-opening, but I felt a bit Dark after reading it.

So I decided to try The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. It’s an original and entrancing take on the very old fairytale, and is written quite beautifully. The author enhances her matter-of-fact story about a couple who have moved to Alaska, and their trials, with a magical dusting of slight faerie: a fairy story for grown ups. It shouldn’t work, but it does, irrepressibly and hauntingly so. It’s one of those books that I will be giving out for Christmas this year (so if you’re a friend of mine, close your eyes when reading this bit or it won’t be a surprise).

I also sweetened the pill with It Just Occurred To Me…by Humphrey Lyttleton. This was quite interesting, not so much the jazz thing (I concur with Tony Wilson on jazz: “Jazz musicians enjoy themselves more than anyone listening to them does”, it sounds to me like someone falling a flight of stairs with a piano down their trousers and a trumpet stuck up their nose) but the insights into Eton, entertainment, and his rather eccentric relatives. It made me do real live guffaws at several points (the story about him head-butting a vicar and setting his stomach on fire is a particular highlight). Lyttleton’s story isn’t an autobiography, it’s ‘just’ a random meandering cornucopia of memories, but a very fine and enjoyable one. Rather than a full feast like an autoiography, it is more a taster menu at a fine restaurant where you keep getting the giggles.

I now have The Mitford Girls to settle down to. I am horrified to realise that a dear friend lent me this book about four years ago and I have yet to read it! I opened a couple of pages while brushing my teeth and it’s tugging at my attention like a puppy at a shoelace, so I might cut this entry short and crack on with it. Especially as Question Time is now on, and it is the kind of programme that makes me get hot, and want to stand up and shout at people on it. This is not condusive to a period of Lounging.

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