Thursday, 21 May 2015

Somerset Stay

A bit of a time with family dealings... not the least of which is the funeral of a family member of The Old Man. In fact The Old Man do have a say in the proceedings and opted for an eco-coffin and a Humanist service. I think this may not have gone down well with some interested parties and I expect their jaws be still on floor ... (sigh).... Never mind.
The Humanist celebrant be lovely woman from Wells who produced a thoughtful dedication that spelled out the various stages of what she herself referred to as "a long and varied life". If the offended parties do take umbrage... well... they weren't there for all of that varied life, were they? For us... who do get a bit "shunned" by some... it was a healing thing that stitched together those "rich" variations.
However... it has all been quite exhausting and not sorted yet.

But we managed to take a walk over Shapwick Heath... a childhood haunt of The Old Man.... on a beautiful day. We walked along the main Drove and into Canada Farm with its wooded lane. To hear the warblers, a persistent cuckoo, and see hoards of blue damsel flies and a brimstone butterfly.... Well that were lovely.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Grey Doll's Criminal Reading Travels: Egypt, Italy and Ireland

I likes to read crime fiction and I likes to travel when I read.
(As opposed to reading when I travel. I don't really go anywhere except in my imagination, see.)

So I thought I'd point you to some of the books I have read recently... and to their reviews over on the Euro Crime site.

I enjoy the books of British Sudanese writer Parker Bilal. "The Burning Gates" is his latest novel featuring Cairo-based Sudanese exile and private eye, Makana. And it does not disappoint. Makana hits the privileged world of art collectors and Cairo society but soon ends up in a stew of murder, stolen art works, war criminals and mercenaries. What I love about Bilal's Makana is his wit, his cautious humanity, his rich and varied pool of friends and acquaintances... and his sheer survivor instinct. Makana is a man who does not wear his heart on his sleeve but it bleeds all the same. Read a full review of Parker Bilal's "The Burning Gates" here.

I have also travelled to Italy for Conor Fitzgerald's "Bitter Remedy". This is the fifth in his series featuring  Commissario Alec Blume of the Rome police. Blume has found himself out of his personal depth and enrols on a natural remedies course which maroons him in the Italian countryside, increasingly ill, but nevertheless drawn into the search for a missing Romanian girl. Alec Blume is a quirky protagonist... who requires some patience to understand... as most of his workmates and his long suffering partner would testify. But there is subtle wit to be found in his neurotic dealings. Read the full review here.

Finally I visit Northern Ireland and the second Celcius Daly novel of Anthony Quinn. "Border Angels" takes us into the territory of sex-trafficking, rural brothels in ruined farmhouses and shipping containers. Daly is on the trail of a trafficked woman after the death of a pimp. The trail takes us, amongst other places, to a ruined half-finished housing development and a developer's vanity-project mansion, giving us a squint at Ireland after the crash. Quinn's settings are some distance from the gritty streets of Belfast but his eery, rural landscapes of mists and thorn hedges are unforgettable. The full review is here.

And I'm staying in Northern Ireland for a while with Stuart Neville's sixth novel, due out in June - "Those We Left Behind". It's a brilliant, chilling story. I'll let you know more later.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Now What...

Gloom descends on this household for various reasons... not the least of them electoral.
Here, we have just lost a good independent-minded local MP through the collapse of the middle ground... roundly helped by the Lib Dem's original decision to go into "coalition". No amount of bleating on the part of Lib Dem leaders that they mollified Tory ravages by so doing will help. Those voters who were not Lib Dem supporters remain unimpressed and view them as weaklings, or worse... self-important weaklings. And a good portion of party-faithfuls and tactical voters view them as traitors.
About parliamentary Labour's hubris... I have nothing to say except that, judging by this morning's media headlines quoting the views of potential new leaders... they have learned nothing.
And now we have what we have. A frustrated electorate has voted for "who they want"... leaving the middle ground to collapse, the diverging edges defined but with no arena in which to discuss or compromise. It seems to me that the only solution will be electoral reform, proportional representation, whatever, in order to regain some working balance. Meanwhile... our new government will set about unpicking as much as they can of the tattered remnants of  the "State" system before they skid-addle out of Europe.
I honestly fear more unrest in the streets but... as I said.... I am feeling gloomy.

Meanwhile... we have to get to a funeral... at some point.

Monday, 4 May 2015

A Death In The Family

A close family member of The Old Man has died, a parent in fact. Very elderly. And quite some distance away, both emotionally and physically.
The Old Man do not quite know what he feels. As the family member grew more ill and frail... we had to dip our toes into concepts of power of attorney and wills and wishes.... causing us to contemplate our own mortalities and frailties.
With The Old Man not being wildly robust himself... the dreaded dash to the bedside kept being put off until more decisions had been taken and more was understood. And so it is that... once things seemed settled all round.... the family member died.
Truthfully the final news is a relief. And as it is with such things... we are still in the land of moment by moment decisions and phone calls. We will have to get there some time in the next week or so and make ourselves acquainted with people not seen for fifty years... or ever.
... And also make ourselves acquainted with our feelings, I guess.
It is some tiring. The Old Man do come over a bit wobbly today....I do make him some soup (not chicken) and we do press on.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Election Time: Paper, Paper Everywhere

I have never been so besieged by party political leaflets in all my life. And they are all from one party. The Conservatives.

My, but they are lucky to have such generous donors. For some leaflets do get thrust through the letter box by hand and some do come with the post. At least two a day.
The other morning The Old Man do bolt out the front door as soon as the leaflet got stuffed through the box. But the phantom Tory Litterer have melted into the undergrowth. Which is just as well 'cos The Old Man be growling and spitting like a Rottweiler on guard duty... and there will... one day... be blood.

For myself... I am thinking that I could return to my "jewellery from recycled materials" days, what I did early on in Cornwall by way of creative penny earnings. Actually...that all started up when I lived in London and got tired of the pizza-takeaway menus coming through the door.....

Same thing really, ain't it.

PS. I shall be voting, mind... and I do know who I be voting for.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Jumping Jehosophats: Baby Grasshoppers

I am besieged. Every time I go in the sun room I do find babies. Baby grasshoppers. In truth they are smaller than this here one. The replicating of the little critters in scale was beyond Mrs D's skills. (What isn't, really.) But I have developed an eye for them and so far over the past week I reckon to have rescued about 18 from the wall or floor and tried to place them outside and somewhere more appropriate.

"First instar." Pronounces The Old Man loftily... and returns to his newspaper, whilst I do crawl around sayin' "Here baby baby... come to Mama..." Can you imagine that? Me... as a great big Mama grasshopper? Oh but my jaws would be head-crunchers.

I think "real mama" must have hopped in and laid eggs under the skirting or something last autumn... and now tis spring... and the babies be hatching.
How big are they really? Well imagine chasing jumping caraway seeds and you get the idea.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Travels With Our Film Life: West Cornwall, 1895 - "Tin"

Well, we didn't have to travel far for this one...a few miles down the road to be precise....
and a bit of time travel back to the 19th century tin mines, churches and mermaids of West Penwith.

We did indeed get ourselves to the local picture house alongside 40 or so others to watch Miracle Theatre's "Tin". And so successful has it been... the cinema chain has put on second showings and extended the run. (Get it while you certain salubrious cinemas.)

It's a gem of a low-cost movie... using quite a degree of green-screen digital scenes via the skills of St. Just-based animation company Spider Eye. Can one have an intimate melodrama? Think that's what it is. A tight-laced, religious mine captain, his invalid mother and their pretty housemaid...add the owner of a struggling tin mine and the swindling ways of bankers (boo!), a love lorn vicar and a traveling opera company bringing "Fidelio" to the Cornish masses.... and you do have plenty of adventure.
It is said that the banking swindle was based on a real-life "accountancy error" (eh-hem) what be written up as a novel by Edward Bosanketh in 1888. (It is rumoured the bank concerned bought up all copies they could find and did destroy them. Well, I never.... Obviously one or two got through.) Lovely performances all round... though the "walking" against a digital background did leave a bit to be desired, mind... Hats off to many and a special doff to Steve Jacobs's anguished Parsimonia, invalid mother of Ben Dyson's thoroughly repressed mine captain, Rundle.
The Old Man be beside himself to hear Ben Luxon and we all do wear a candle on our heads in celebration.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Animated Discussions: Stromae's Carmen - Music Video by Sylvain Chomet

A dark look at that little bluebird.
From Belleville Rendezvous's Sylvain Chomet for Belgian rapper/songwriter Stromae.

(I lurve Belleville Rendezvous aka The Triplets of Belleville).

Edit: Have just discovered that Cornwall based animation company Spider Eye also had a hand in this. Brilliant.)

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Cornish Mist: Second Day: Wednesday - Porthcurno

 Ha! Caution thrown to the winds. Sun in the sky. We launch out again. Penzance first for shopping. Then... shall we make a day of it? Shall we try again for West Penwith? Yes we do. And we can see that wall of sea mist again but it seems to be clinging to the northern side proper. So we  reach Porthcurno. And quite a few people are thinking the same...Its white beach containing a good old sprinkling of families and swimmers.
We eat our lunch stuff picked up at Archie Brown's, down some water and decide to tackle the coast path up to the top of the cliff. You can just see the start of the path that I mean in this photo here.
It do look beautiful mind. Yellow gorse, creamy white blackthorn blossom and all sorts of birds chiffing, chaffing and singing. Up we goes and if I say so myself we did tackle that path like mountain goats.... on all fours and sometimes backwards.
Did we see a basking shark?
No, my dears. But I don't care.
Aarh-Haarh! Poldark!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Cornish Mist: First Day Out - Tuesday

Beautiful day Tuesday. We decide to take advantage. Where have we not been for a while? I've never managed this "basking shark spotting" that people are up to. The cliffs around Porthcurno perhaps?
We set off. But as Penzance comes into sight we do spot it.... The all-enshrouding sea mist, a wall of grey cutting off the hills behind Penzance. Perhaps not Porthcurno then.

A quick revise and a swing round on the old A30 to the north coast. Godrevy? Blotted. Portreath? Lost. Porthtowan? Not to be seen. Nothing for it. St Agnes Beacon again then. The hill is clear and we climb about it and sit and watch the mist blot out farms and fields then waltz away and leave them to the sun again.
The mist might be hard to spot in me photo here... but it's that grey wall at the top... wandering around the coast behind St. Agnes.
Aah-Haarh! Poldark!