Friday, 20 November 2015

Bit Of An Autumnal Break: Somerset

 ...and the village of my grandmother.... apparently.
Bit of an orchard. And plenty of mistletoe comin' for Christmas.
Come to speak of it.... mistletoe all over Somerset this year. The Old Man says he don't remember it ever being so .... "mistletoe-ish".

Monday, 9 November 2015

The Dolls Criminal Travels: Northern Ireland, Libya and Italy

My dears, I have been travelling as usual. With my crime fiction reading that is.

Firstly I visited Northern Ireland with Stuart Neville's latest book, Those We Left Behind, built around DCI Serena Flanagan who appeared in his Jack Lennon book The Final Silence. (Neville has written a series featuring detective Jack Lennon whose perilous slide down the career ladder signifies the predicament us crime fans doubtless recognise - the hallmark of the independent but rackety, if not rocky, investigator who is tumbling towards a perilous edge. But do not doubt that I am a great follower of Lennon and hope he will return.) Those We Left... is a slight departure again. Although still full of suspense and chill, I think this book goes more deeply into psychological territory. It  deals with the consequences of the release from prison of nineteen year-old Ciaran Devine, after serving a seven year sentence for the murder of his foster father. A child "killer" released back into society where his older brother is waiting for him. The probation officer assigned to his case starts to have doubts about the brothers' relationship and she turns to DCI Flanagan who had gained Ciaran's trust and his confession those seven years before. It's a brilliant book in which Neville seems almost to have crossed into the realm usually the property of Scandinavian crime fiction - the dark psychological/socio-thriller. Read my review over on Euro Crime for more detail.

I also managed a long trip to Libya and Italy with Roberto Costantini's The Root Of All Evil. Make sure you have plenty of time and powers of concentration for this one. But if, like me, you have a liking for crime served up on a social, historical platter - it will be worth it. The second book in a trilogy featuring the frankly unlikeable Italian detective, Balistreri, this one runs from his youth in Tripoli as the son of an influential fascist family together with the run-up to Gaddafi's coup in 1969 and then Balistreri's investigations into a murder case in 1980s Italy. It's a case which starts to remind him of events in his Libyan youth. Detailed, painstakingly constructed, hard realities painted with neutral strokes (it is no mean feat to make readable a book which centres on an "unattractive" protagonist) this is a rewarding book. Again, you can read the full review over on Euro Crime. And you can also read a good interview with Costantini over on the Crime Thriller Fella blog.

Phew! I'd tell you of more foreign criminal adventures but I'm off to put my feet up. Be back soon.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Madame Deficit On Literacy And Language In Cornwall

Bonjours, mes amis... Je suis desolated that I have not been paying attention to you recently. Instead, I have been tending my pretty lambs. After all, hard times are depressing times. Better to dress prettily and dance in the meadows, I think. No. Really. Let us not discuss the price of bread.

But on the subject of financial management.... Cornwall Council have taken a leaf out of the Good Government's book. If you can't pay for something... delegate payment to those beneath you. And so they propose that libraries and the accompanying luxury of books and reading (to be accessed by all) be the privilege and financial responsibility of local and parish councils or "volunteer groups". (After all, my dears, there is nothing to this business of running libraries but the timely application of duster to book and keeping shelves tidy, n'est-ce pas?)

Meanwhile they do intend to place serious emphasis on their campaign to promote the Cornish language. (Why not remove all books in English from the library shelves, I do wonder? And replace them with books in Cornish? This will save space also, I believe.) Mais Non. They intend to encourage their staff to answer the phones in Cornish. Wonderful. A great move towards understanding all round.
However... for my silly self... I do neither speak nor understand Cornish and may have to move to Oxford and encourage council staff to greet me in Latin...

Monday, 2 November 2015

Autumn: The Robin Sings

I go up into the bedroom where the window is open to the autumn sun and hear the sound of a robin singing its soft autumn song in the hedge nearby.
I spot something on my chair. A tiny pile of bird .... waste. It do appear that the robin may have popped in for a call before he popped out again to sing so sweetly in the hedge.
Robins. Cheeky little beggars.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Wonders Of Halloween

All alone on the beach it was.....
Where had it come from? What had it seen? Had it bobbed alone on the waves to end up here.... on the tide-flattened sand?

Meanwhile, over on Syb & Me .... Mrs D is being traumatised by her dead mother.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Old Man Eats Crumpets

The other day I do practise making crumpets. Because... I like crumpets. The Old Man did have points of criticism to make of course, but did eat quite a few. Next day he plomps a few more on his plate whilst still passing comments on their consistency, structure, and so on.
"Well, warm them up!" I say in outrage, "They be all cold and flabby."
At which point The Old Man do look at his crumpet, pause, huff on it like he be polishing the silver and do stuff it into his mouth.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Old Man's Hair Do Grow Long

 The Old Man do not like getting his hair cut. He complains that he cannot find anyone to cut it well more than once. (Pause for thought.) His favourite cutting man did give it all up in favour of martial arts and I can understand how this could come about.

When ... the other day... The Old Man is at the local farm shop, our abrasive host asked him if he is going to get his "winter" haircut any time soon. This do annoy The Old Man who recounted our friendly farmer's remark when he came home. I did suggest he might like to tie his locks in a bow a la Yorkshire Terrier ... for the purpose of shopping trips.

Such are the thought processes of The Old Man, he do seem to think this a good idea.