Backing the Booker

In Twitterland, Sabina @sabaone responded to the news of the latest book to win the Booker Prize with this comment:

some of the booker winners baffle me. have read God of small things and White tiger and was not impressed by either

I loved The God of Small Things, and thought this year’s winner sounded pretty interesting when I read about it after it was shortlisted. The only Booker prize winners I have tried and failed to read are Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, which I hope to try again and enjoy, and Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi, which I am not going to try again. However, there are many years when I have not read the winner, and 2015’s A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James remains on my to read list.

But I loved Possession: A Romance by AS Byatt, (1990) which was the first novel I managed to read after my father died and which felt like a requited love affair. Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring up the Bodies (2012) by Hilary Mantel are in my all time top ten of best novels I have ever read or hope to read. I’d never have read Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (2013) if I hadn’t heard about it because of Booker. Continue reading

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VegFest 2017

This weekend I have tickets for VegFest, not a music festival with vegan bands, but a food festival celebrating vegetarian food. I can’t go to the whole thing as I am working parts of the weekend. I’ve been looking forward to it, but last night I saw a programme with a piece about vegetarian food and now I am a bit worried.

All the food they featured mimicked meat. There was the line about vegetarian food that could tempt meat eaters; a comment, based on the fact that so much of the meat mimicking stuff would have passed the blindfold test, that vegetarian food has come a long way. I wasn’t giving the programme my full attention, but my expectations of the weekend’s VegFest have abated. One producer who made veggie burgers that taste like meat listed the various ingredients she uses that give the taste, texture and whatever else of meat. In other words, the things I dislike.

So will VegFest be about what I think of as vegetarianism, or a prosletysing force for people who’d like to cut meat out of their diets but still feel like they eating it? The Linda McCartney form of vegetarianism. Fine if that’s what you want, but I’m beginning to feel it should have another name to distinguish it from vegetarianism that doesn’t have any interest in recreating meat out of vegetables. Continue reading

Lasting Impressions

I came home last night and today I’ve working, so it was nice, just now, to look at the photos I took while I was away and relive the moments vicariously.

I am rubbish at photographing birds. I have about six out of focus pictures of a Great Crested Grebe swimming about the marina, and at least six more when I have clicked the shutter as it has dived under water. So although this photo of a Moorhen won’t win any prizes, I am pleased with it.

Moorhen


That’s the ever spreading Pennywort covering the water’s surface by the way. I’m not keen on photos of sunsets either, but there something magical about cooking dinner and looking at this view.

View from the galley

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A Mad World

Sadly I have to return home tomorrow as I am working on Sunday. I thought lots of people would turn up at the marina tonight, lured by the forecast of temperatures in the mid twenties and sunshine. Maybe they’ll come tomorrow. We are once again alone. One couple and their elderly Jack Russell did arrive tonight, they ran the engine, stowed their gear and disappeared into the (beautiful) sunset. Then the hunters started shooting. Close by. Not nice. Fortunately they have now stopped.

Older Nephew said something to me yesterday about the boat being part of who I am. I think he’s right, and in the aftermath of Mother’s and Aunt’s deaths I am enjoying the boat in a different way to formerly. So keeping the car, keeping the boat is my preferred option for the time being.

I caught up with the review section of last Saturday’s Guardian. There was a piece by Amy Grace about how she (and Margaret Attwood and Donna Tartt) wrote for Playboy. Maybe I need to reread it, but on first reading it made me very cross. Saying Playboy was tame in comparison with what was available elsewhere does not, to me, make Hefner’s empire acceptable. I remember in the 80s feeling despair when very young girls in the school where I taught appeared carrying pencil cases with the bunny symbol, the most charismatic boy in the Sixth Form (a Sikh, don’t think HH’s appeal was merely to middle-aged white men) wore wristbands with the same logo and looked up to Hefner as a rôle model. From Instagram I have been educated with the very unwelcome knowledge that many young women see their worth in their sexual attractiveness and availability. There are more cleavages and bare buttocks, sometimes pouting lips, out there and apparently posted by their women they belong to, than I would have believed possible in 2017.

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Yesterday

I was reading when Older Nephew arrived and didn't hear his car. The crunch of gravel near at hand made me look up and there he was. Now the day was warm, though it had been chilly first thing when I had braved the Spartan conditions of the shower block to emerge briskly clean.

We had a brief discussion and decided to head out. Older Nephew had limited time, so it couldn't be a long trip. I made lunch as we travelled, and we kept our eyes on the skies watching the kestrels hovering. We also had to keep our eyes on the water. There was very little traffic but a lot of weed. MasterB had inspected it from the rear cabin window earlier at the marina.

There were a surprising number of cows with young calves, then this fine fellow lost in contemplation.

Another cow seemed to watching us.

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Autumn Boating

I have been pretty good about blogging recently, but now I am afloat, so I shall probably be on gold star behaviour for the next few days. It is windy. It is wet. MasterB and I are the only ones at the marina. And as there aren't other cars, I doubt if anyone else has taken their boat out. But since I last came, my neighbours have gone. There is no boat on the starboard side of the pontoon, and tonight the wind is coming from that direction so we are missing its shelter. That may be why I am having a frustrating time watching C4 news too. The winds play havoc with the signal, and it is breaking up so much a coherent narrative is impossible.

Yet the journey was full of sunshine. Golden leaves, trees on either side of the road glinting gold, red and yellow as well as green. It was fortunate the view was good as the journey itself was slow beyond belief due to intermittent road works which meant I was travelling at the end of the school day, so parents collecting their children (what happened to walking home or taking the bus, or cycling?) clogged the roads. Compensation as I neared das Boot. A glance to the right and there were three deer happily in a brown field. I saw a kestrel too, just sitting. I left a stack of egg cartons from not only my own stock, but also Octavia and my neighbours Hugo and Jolita, at Janet Eggs, I didn't see Janet, but her husband was ther with the dogs bounding about him.

People have been shooting tonight. Gunfire has peppered my unpacking and putting away. I don't think Keats references the hunting side of autumn. A great crested grebe was swimming about the marina when we arrived, then a swan. MasterB, released from his cat basket made straight for das Boot, although I was hopeful at one point he would dig a hole and have a pee and or a poo. Doubtless the joy of clearing both awaits me before morning. Continue reading