Saturday, 28 December 2013

The Christmas Zeitgeist... one of angst, I think.
It's just that I have "carefully analysed" the Christmas cards sent to moi and The Old Man (that is... I have arranged them all round the room) and can see that just about every card has a traditional theme (and mucho glitter and sparkle). There is a whole mantelpiece full of Christmas Trees whilst most of the other cards display Robins, Snowmen, Snow Scenes, Nativities and the odd Christmas Pudding.

This year... the witty image-plays, whacky imagery and reproductions of paintings are gone .... No. It's a longing for a Cosy Christmas straight down the line. Aaah my dahlings... How unsafe we do feel in these times.

Bless you all, darlings... and a Happy New Year. We can do it!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

In Which Mrs D Do Calculate her Christmasiness

Mmm... must do.... must have....morning, mince pies, mulled wine, macaroons, maids-a-milking, merry merry, mistletoe, mayhem...

Friday, 20 December 2013

"The Wild Bride" - Kneehigh's Play on BBC Radio 4: 21st Dec

You must know that I am a great fan of Kneehigh Theatre Company... and that The Old Man and me do go to see their productions in Cornwall whenever we can. One production I do greatly enjoy is "The Wild Bride". Now they have adapted their play for radio. It will be broadcast tomorrow (Saturday 21st Dec) at 14.30 on BBC Radio 4 (Here for Kneehigh's page about recording it.)

Should be a great seasonal offering... though how the physicality, smoke, mirrors and sheer magic will get translated into word, sound and music... I do not know. But I shall be listening of course!

Kneehigh have already announced that their 2014 "Asylum" season will include their reworking of John Gay's "Beggar's Opera" entitled "Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs)" with music by Charles Hazlewood. That should be in September. Less good news for us is that they are moving their Asylum venue to Heligan Gardens ... which be a bit of a stretch for us Old'uns down here at the western tip of the land. But.....The Old Man has got his maps out. Maybe we can get there.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Grey Doll & Criminal Reading: Jakob Arjouni's "Brother Kemal"

Sometimes I catch a writer... tragically... with their last book. Last year it was Paul Sussman with his thrilling "Labyrinth Of Osiris" set in Egypt and Israel. (Read a review here.)

Recently I read German writer Jakob Arjouni's "Brother Kemal". It's the latest and sadly the last in the late writer's crime series featuring Turkish-German private eye Kemal Kayankaya as he walks the "mean streets" of Frankfurt. It is a tightly written, concise and flavourful thriller with a wry view which conjures up Chandler and his creation Marlowe. Arjouni wrote this series over a long period of time (because he wrote other things aside from Kemal) and there are four previous titles in the series. Publisher No Exit Press published all the titles last month by way of celebrating Arjouni's work.
Read a review of "Brother Kemal" over on the Euro Crime blog.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Rest In Peace "Ripper Street"

Would you believe it. The rotters have done it to me again. BBC1 appear to have cancelled their Victorian-Almost-Steam-Punk crime series "Ripper Street".
.....Which I have been greatly enjoying for its acting, its design and its historico-social plots (I am OK with the The Elephant Man putting in an appearance for an episode or two.. I do like that.) Their research has been good as far as I can see. One episode a while ago involved dastardly bomb plots...
and Mrs D have been a reference librarian in her time and do know that their mentioned incident involving Irish Nationalists having blown up the prison in Clerkenwell be accurate.
All in all I thought everything about this series was improving with age.

Dang! Why do they cancel intelligent, absorbing, entertainment? No wonder I do watch foreign crime drama on BBC4. Cannot the BBC get its programming act together?
The latest news is that there is some hope of a co-producer bringing it back via online viewing....
but once again mainstream decision-making do poke my viewing choices into some "Cult/Weird Fringe" class that be "not good value for licence payers".
Moi? I do pay my licence fee... and I'm tired of running around the digital channels to find something watchable. OK call me a grouch. I go on record as not liking Talent-Celebrity-Singing-Dancing shows.... but I do like "Ripper Street". Boo-Hoo.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Eating Cake...

I be remiss in posting to my blog.
What can I say? I been spending time eating a lot of cake.... cos that's the kind of girl I am.
And elbowing Mrs D out the way (she be lost in Christmas Panic) in order to do my own wrapping and sellotaping and scribblin' bad notes for Christmas cards.
Did you miss me?

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Grey Doll & Criminal Reading: Anne Holt's "Blessed Are Those Who Thirst"

I'm not sure... with books in translation ... how much the foreign language reader's experience is dictated by the translator and their translation. I mean... how do we know? Cos we can't read the original. Otherwise we would. Read the original, I mean.

With Norwegian writer Anne Holt  ... I have read or listened to three of her books so far. I liked them all. But some more than others. And each had a different translator and it has to be said that each "felt" as if it had a slightly different voice. In addition, the one that I listened to as an MP3 download was read by a clear but rather mannered narrator. So.... who is to know already how Holt "reads" to a Norwegian reader? Frustrating, ain't it.

Anyways I do read Anne Holt's second in her "Hanne Wilhelmsen" series ("Blessed Are Those Who Thirst") centred on Hanne, a woman detective in the Oslo Police. It was originally published in Norway in 1998. Er... that's fifteen years ago now. But its content and plot seem bang up to date in social context and concerns. A particularly bloody serial killer and a traumatic rape make up the core of Hanne's caseload and through it all we get to know Hanne and her colleagues better and the hostile climate they work in. (No...I don't mean snow and stuff... I mean public and management attitude.... Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, huh?)

Anne Holt is an important Scandinavian crime writer to try if you are a Nordic Noir fan.... and you can certainly read a more detailed review of this book over at Euro Crime.

Monday, 2 December 2013

In Which Mrs D Do Try To Imagine... Christmas

B is for.... Bells, Baubles, Berries, Brussel Sprouts, Brandy Butter, Best Frocks, Biscuits, Boxing Day, Burping, Bickering......

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Planting Garlic

OK. A vegetable eater's gardening is never done.
Rain has stopped long enough over last few days to tidy up a bit in the veg patch. And I done bin planted some garlic for next year. They do like a bit of winter if you plant the right sort. Sad to say the bulbs I ordered are a bit rotten... Truly. But I makes up with some of me own crop from the summer.

Already worrying over where to put what if my veg-growing dreams come true next year.... taties, beans, peas, leaf beet,.... where will they fit in?

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

In Which Mrs D Contemplates.... Christmas

P is for .... Puddings, Presents, Parcels, Posting, Partridges, Pear trees, Pipers, Pickled walnuts, Pastry, Pies, Popcorn, Panic....

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Saturday Night Borgen

Ooh... Saturday night treats on the telly last night....

(I do get away from the woes of the world with BBC's Dr Who 50th Anniversary Special ... What better way to dispel gloom than to contemplate the end of just about everything.)

Then The Old Man deigns to re-enter the room and it's time to get away from current depressing political shenanigans.... by settling down to watch the second batch of episodes of the final series of Danish tele-drama "Borgen".....

which be about............ politics.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Last Chance For Seeing Graham Sutherland At Penlee House

Feeling Retro these days... what with buying a corduroy kaftan, investigating large dangly earrings and listening to "The Screwtape Letters" (see previous post)...

Now The Old Man and me make a last dash to catch the Graham Sutherland sketches and paintings - "From Darkness Into Light" of tin miners at work and other industrial scenes from the 1940s - on show at Penlee House in Penzance and finishing this week.

It's good to get a local chance to see lesser-known work of major national art figures such as Sutherland. And I particularly love to see sketch-books where there is often something fresh and personal that is frequently masked by the "familiar" final results. Such is the case with this exhibition. Sutherland's written notes are atmospheric reminders to himself of what he was seeing and experiencing as he worked in the tunnels.... and the drawings are often vivid and free. Certainly this be a contrast to some of the laboured and "worked" paintings that have been included.

Catch the show if you can... for insights into both Sutherland and the life of the tin miners of West Cornwall. It ends this Saturday the 23rd November 2013.

From Darkness into Light

Graham Sutherland: Mining, Metal and Machines

14 September - 23 November 2013

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Revisiting The Screwtape Letters

Korf! Korf!
I function therefore I am....   back.

.....and listening to BBC Radio 4's current "Book of the Week" which is Simon Russell Beale reading C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters". Some (like The Old Man) may say:
"Whatever For?"
(But then The Old Man do not like organised religion, Simon Russell Beale or C. S. Lewis ... since he realised he be a member of an organised religion....)

To which I reply:
"Our headmistress used to read it to us by way of an RK (Religious Knowledge) slot when I be a sixth former. And I always liked it and be thankful for her treating us as if we do have some brain cells."

And... I do find some comfort as I do ponder the shameful fate of my beloved Co-Op and in particular the appalling car-crash what be the appointment of the Rev Paul Flowers as its Bank Man (The Co-Op's very own "Mayor of Toronto" with religious pretensions.)
Clearly Screwtape won through on that particular Methodist Minister... for me the rest is ashes....

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Apologies....(Korf! Korf!)

You may well ask.... where have I been?
(Korf! Korf!   Hak! Hak!)
Considerably below the weather.... which as you may know has been lousy in the quagmire that is Cornwall.
By the time The Old Man be chivvied out of his nesting-reading-the-paper-watching-the-news-on-the-telly chair and learn to open the bedroom door and look at me now and then.....
By the time he do learn to poke a drink or an offer of food at me fairly regularly.....
By the time I do stop shouting and wailing that I (Korf!Korf!) do feel ill..... (Hak!) In short... dear readers... by the time some sanity (Hak! Hak!) do return to the household and to me...

..... then I do manage to be a bit more vertical and will be talking and boring on as usual...... (Korf!).... soon.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Grey Doll & Criminal Reading: Marco Vichi's "Death in Florence"

I am back from my film-life tour of Italy. But I would just like to finish this Italian theme by telling you about a crime writer that I really recommend -  Marco Vichi. And his latest book to read in translation is "Death In Florence"

Vichi's main character is homicide detective Inspector Bordelli. The books are set during the 1960s... with Bordelli as a man in his fifties who has memories of wartime Italy and the partisan struggle. His police colleague is a younger man, Piras, who is the son of one of Bordelli's fellow partisans.

If you like a hefty slice of history... and social history... with your crime. And you don't mind at all if it is served along with striking characters, descriptions of food, a sense of place.... not to mention plenty of plot... this is the writer for you. I find him a tad darker than Camilleri (and his popular Inspector Montalbano) but that's my taste... I am that kind of gal.

With "Death in Florence" a boy disappears as he waits to be collected from school. Eventually his body is found, bearing the hallmarks of rape by more than one person. It is a dark story for Bordelli and one that again takes him back to past memories. In the midst of his hunt for the perpetrators the relentless rain fills the River Arno and bursts its banks with the famous Florence flood of 1966. All of this is detailed too as Bordelli watches the destruction and joins the teams of people attempting feed each other and clean up. After the flood he and Piras are free to resume their hunt for the boy's killers.

It is a great story full of detail and character and you can read a detailed review here over on the Euro Crime blog.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Travels With My Film-Life: Italy - The Grand Tour - De Sica in Miraculous Milan

The last stage of our film-life tour of Italy. We are in post-war Milan amongst the destitute and homeless who are about to participate in a miracle.
Cos this is..... Vittorio De Sica's "Miracle in Milan".
And me I do think I will visit a gritty piece of Italian Neo-realism like his famous "Bicycle Thieves"... but no.....
With this film we are whisked into a social satire, a fantasy that starts with a baby found in an old woman's cabbage patch and which then takes us through the founding of a Utopian shanty-town.... its demolition through greed.... and its inhabitants' transportation through the miracle of a magic dove... what is that? The Holy Spirit? Love?

I don't rightly know but it was a surprising fantastic journey... both bitingly realistic and  optimistic... or was that a desperate resort to magic?

Ha-ha! magical Neo-realism that's what it be.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Travels With My Film-Life: Italy - The Grand Tour - Early Bertolucci in Rome

Qui siamo a Roma. And this is Rome in the early 1960s....
We have travelled from Bertolucci's most recent film, "Me & You", to his very first as a director.... "The Grim Reaper" released in 1962. We spend most of the time in the poor districts of Rome and from the opening shot we know that there is the body of a woman. But who killed her? Like Kurosawa's "Rashomon" we see the scene as told by different suspects.... the young men and boys who pass through the night-time park where she is last seen..... standing, waiting for a "customer". Each story gives us a flavour of their lives and each story is punctuated by the rain storm that sets the timing of their versions. Which is the truth?

Based on a story by Pasolini, there is a quality about the film that does conjure up Pasolini's own films. Again critics do dismiss the film as derivative... but hey! It's Bertolucci's first.

For me.... there is something vivid about the people, scenes and settings that gives the feel of the time. Blimey I do myself remember those frilly blouses and mohair jumpers.... and the cheesy cha-chas!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Travels With My Film-Life: Italy - The Grand Tour - Bertolucci and De Sica

Ciao amori miei! We have such rain and gloom I do admit that The Old Man and I have spent much time in our film-life travels and I have not spoken to you for a week, I think.
Prego... we be travelling around Italy..... South to North ..... Catania a Milano.

We start in Sicily. No... not for another Inspector Montalbano... The Old Man have grown allergic to these and I do watch them recorded. No! We are visiting a Catania basement.... with 14 year old Lorenzo who is escaping his school's skiing trip and hiding out from both schoolmates and mother.  It's "Me and You" (Io e Te) a resurfacing film for director Bertolucci. 

Allora! Lorenzo has got it all planned... food, music, books.... even animal company...  an ants' nest terrarium. But then.... Lorenzo is joined by his 25 year old half-sister, Olivia, a junkie artist looking to find somewhere to detox. This is not what he had planned .... (Lorenzo is doomed to relate whether he wants to or not). In fact their forced hidden life together makes for relationship for both outsiders... and at the end there is a sense of things having changed for Lorenzo.

So we really enjoy watching this film.... but it seems to have had a bit of a rough time from critics and be considered light-weight... maybe some kind of indulgence on Bertolucci's part. Well (sigh) I think they be a bit harsh. It's filmed beautifully (using film... not digital... for last time for Bertolucci... you can't get the stocks no more...) and the performances from both first time actors Jacopo Olmo Antinori (Lorenzo) and Tea Falco (Olivia) are splendid.
Don't it leave you feeling funny when you really like something and the critics think it's crap? What can I say. We watched it with great joy. Try it out... see if you agree with the critics... or me and The Old Man...Io e Lui.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Travels With My Film-Life: Switzerland and Sorrentino's "The Consequences Of Love"

Here we be in the understated luxury of a Swiss hotel watching a man who seems simply to watch... or is that all that he does?

It's Paolo Sorrentino's 2004 film The Consequences of Love which is a cool, slow, beautifully photographed.... Mafia film. No frantic chases, shouting, wall-climbing suspense. (Except for the ultimate in suspense at the end!)
Instead...a gradual involvement in the enigmatic existence of Titta Di Girolamo, a lonely and severely compromised man ... played beautifully by Toni Servillo... who appears to observe everything and everyone from the sidelines. And we are drawn in to observe his fatal vulnerability and fatal choices. In short... the aforesaid consequences.

This film is so coolly made and shot... I'm still not sure how I feel about it. No.. I do... this is a good one. It lingers in the mind. It's more than its plot. And it looks so good.

So I shall look forward to watching more Servillo and Sorrentino.
Next time in Rome itself with Sorrentino's "The Great Beauty"  released this year.

Meanwhile try a taster of "Consequences..."

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Consequences Of A Cramped Living Space....

.... because building work be held up by a lack of the "three dry days in a row" required by the sub-contractor.....

well... for me this do mean two visits to the osteopath who's trying to straighten out me spine. I mean... there's an awful lot of sidling and swiveling built into our days.

And housework? Oy Veh!

Monday, 21 October 2013

In Which Mrs D Dreams She Do Live In A Box...

She do dream that at night she goes to a "lock-up" store in a row of similar.... in corridor upon corridor of floor upon floor of same. She do enter this large plywood "box" with folding doors and she do close the doors and lock them.... Just in time?
Is that someone banging on the door?.......

Clearly real world building work be going on too long!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Grey Doll & Criminal Reading: Eoin Colfer's "Screwed"

Irish writer Eoin Colfer is well known for his children's fiction, particularly his "Artemis Fowl" series. But in 2011 he published "Plugged", his first adult crime thriller. It is set in New Jersey and features Irish ex-soldier Daniel McEvoy now a bouncer at a club. It is a fast-paced and funny crime thriller. (If "MASH/Catch 22" black humour is your choice.... and of course it is so with me. Incidentally, The Old Man and me did revisit the TV series M*A*S*H a while back, via a dvd box-set.  It be a mistake... to our dismay this particular mid-run series did not travel in time that well at all.)

Anyhoo... I do digress...

Colfer has published a second McEvoy book...."Screwed" (thematic titles are frequently de rigueur with crime series). It is a worthy follow-on and I do most greatly enjoy it. Danny is still battling between the pincers of crime and the powers of law-enforcement and is still teamed up with the slippery Zeb Kronski. This time he has multiple problems to solve in order to hang on to his life, his club, his girl and probly his cojones. Notable incidents involve the loss of Daniel's life-insurance (kinda) due to a lightning strike and his involvement with a pair of cops in rubber aprons and gimp masks.

Fast, wise-cracking and suspenseful, I do recommend. And you can read a review over at the Euro Crime site here.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

In Which Mrs D Dreams Of The Transformative Power Of Hair

Mrs D do wake up from a dream in which she is growing her hair. As it is curly hair.... she do tie it up out of sight.

But one evening... after partaking of an Indian meal in social company... she do fall asleep. On waking, she washes her hair in clear water.... and do find she have a cascade of long, snowy, wavy, impressiveness. She be transformed into somebody else altogether. Someone full of dignity and loveliness.

I do say.... Ha! That's some flight of fantasy.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Madame Deficit Considers Badgers And The Sporting Life

Zut Alors!
Badgers do play football.
Quel jolly animals. How intelligent. How sportif.
It is official that they do... for the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson have said that the little beasts have "moved the goalposts" in the night-shooting exercise that is the West Country Badger cull.

Of course I know also that badgers play football.
My own joli petit potager be proof of this.

Many a morning.... as I do walk through the garden....I find that the wooden logs that mark out the vegetable plots be moved aside and be all over the place. The naughty animals have been having jolly good fun with a midnight "friendly" five-a side game. And.... not only do I find this evidence of "moving the goalposts" but I do find their "ball"..... which be nothing less than one of my precious winter squashes....

Eh bien! You can see the scars left by a set of claws. Plainly some naughty badger have handled the ball. But sadly for them... the "Hand of God" have not intervened in the deadly game in Somerset. The firm that is charged with shooting the little players have had their license to kill extended. Mr Paterson do consider that not enough badgers have been killed to prove the experiment ....which is the badgers fault for rearranging the goal posts and for being badgers.

And what if this extension is not enough? Pouf! Mr Paterson be considering gassing next. He is most certainly determined to get the little blighters, ain't he?
Tiens! Guns and gas. C'est comme la première guerre mondiale une fois de plus, non?

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Travels With My Film-Life: Glasgow And Beyond With Ken Loach's "The Angels' Share"

The Old Man and I do spend some time in Ken Loach's Scotland with a "heart-warmer" as people do so like to call these things.... "The Angels' Share"

Robbie is a street savvy Glasgow guy who's had more than a few brushes with the law. But now he's going to be a father and things have to change. How can you manage that when people have it in for you and you're down the bottom of the pile? Luck, brains, a helping hand and a gift he doesn't know he possesses - a gift for whisky knowledge.

What follows is a journey that is a crime caper taking Robbie and his friends from some of the meanest squalid bits of Glasgow to the distillery delights of the Highlands..... It's a Ken Loach fairy tale and therefore quite "grim" in parts.

A great film... be prepared for getting to grips with the Scots lingo...
Here's a trailer with the usual gruff American voice-over.....

Monday, 7 October 2013

Sorry... Long Time, No Speak

There still be some building work going on here.
And whilst it be going well so far... The Old Man and me are holed up in a very cramped sitting room containing far too many chairs.... whilst outside is the fog and the rain what have gone on for some weeks now.

So I be limping around like I been born on the side of a mountain.... moaning cos my elder hips do protest at the slalom course I work, each and every day, around the furniture in said room.

I shall be taking meself off to the osteopath on Wednesday....
.......See if she can unwind whatever has wound itself in a knot (which may turn out to be the whole of me).

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Graphic Passions: Rutu Modan's "The Property"

In "The Property" by  Rutu Modan (Translated by Jessica Cohen, published by Jonathan Cape, 2013).....

Regina Segal and her granddaughter Mica travel from Tel Aviv to Warsaw where Regina is hoping to reclaim a family property lost during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw in World War 2. The visit brings back painful memories for the elderly Regina and in turn her growing secrecy puzzles Mica. Events are further complicated by the apparently coincidental appearance of a friend of Regina's daughter. Distrust and cross-purposes veil this story of bitter-sweet memories and the possibilities of reconciliation.

I enjoyed this graphic novel greatly. Modan's drawing style is deceptively simple and "flat" but still gives expression and characterisation.
And Boy... do some of those characters irritate me .... proof of Modan's story-telling skills. Flashback passages are rendered in sepia monochrome, providing a clear narrative for this subtle, contemporary story.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Sparrowhawk Rules...

The small birds have disappeared from the garden. The Old Man has taken down two bird feeders, leaving only one.
The neighbours have taken down their feeders as well.

And the reason is Madame Sparrowhawk (I do mention her a post or so ago). I have never known the like. Yes we do get a hawk coming through quite often. She usually takes collared doves.

But this lady do sit right next to the feeder... or in the tree the feeder hangs from... She sits and waits until we see her off.  I just have never known such a bold and stubborn one before.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Definitely Autumn

Cutting some squash. Clearing the peas and beans. A barrow load of compost.

Yesterday The Old Man and me do go buy a pasty and park up near St Agnes Beacon. Stare out to sea... which we do see occasionally... sometimes small patches of blue do open up above us.

After that we do drive to St Day and spend some time looking for The Old Man's great aunt's gravestone... ruined church... damp and mist.... Definitely autumn.

Photo: copyright  Rod Allday from Wikipedia

Friday, 20 September 2013

BBC 4: Serving One's Past As a Cultural Stew

One of the unexpected side effects of being elder is to find one's lived past regurgitated as edutainment  in a garbled form.

So it be for me when I do settle down to BBC 4's "Fabric of Britain: The Golden Age of Knitting" the other evening.

All is smooth going until we reach my own lifespan's experience - the 1950s onwards - and I admit to gagging a bit as 1950s home knitting culture is fed to me purely as some kind of desire to "make things for one's loved ones"....

Let me see now.... my recollection is that money is still tight post-war and into the mid-1950s at least. New "manufactured" clothes are considered expensive by many, hence... you make your own because that is all you can afford. To paraphrase The Old Man's grandmother ... "They's can't schemy must lowster." (If you can't be brainy you have to do physical work) or in terms of my argument..."if you ain't got the money you have to make it yourself."

By the time the "documentary" hits the 1960s my eyes are revolving in their sockets. Showing clips of young girls grooving in lacy mini dresses. Just to be pedantic. This is not knitting. This is crochet. I know. My big sis do crochet just such a dress for me at the time, white cotton.... And where does that fashion come from, I ask? Most likely the same street-savvy of "make because you can't afford to buy". Paris fashion of the 1960s features hand-crafted lace mini dresses and the nearest us plebs can manage as substitute is crochet. Voila! The crochet mini- dress.

The documentary then goes on about the "sweater dress" that all the "girls were crazy for". I don't remember that craze, and believe me I do have my eye on fashion even if I be too plump, rural and un-wealthy to get my hands on it. But I do remember the "skinny rib sweater" that everyone does want .... but is not mentioned in this piece.

So... by the time the doc have disposed of knitting in the 1980s without mention of Patricia Roberts but instead with a display of Gyles Brandreth's awful novelty items, I be weeping. Apparently there be no knitted fashion in the 1990s. But I do remember my black fine-knit Nicole Farhi dress as the clothes-love-of-me life at that time. Apparently I be buying and wearing knits in the 1990s in some alternate future/past.

The recent resurgence of "knitting groups" as tackled by the programme's pundits is something else. But it is glossed over. Perhaps it is nostalgia .... or a backlash against manufactured clothes? I dunno. But the fact which is unmentioned in this TV analysis of the "Golden Age of Knitting" - is that present day fashion/clothing industry economics is the very opposite of that of the 1950s. Then, hand-knitting was done with standardised woollen  and cotton yarns in various forms and the clothing manufacture industry was still largely a British affair. The designed, synthetic yarns of recent years, by contrast, cost a fortune. Buying enough yarn to make a fashionable garment - always bespoke patterns for these yarns because they are so individualised - is an expensive project. On the other hand the manufactured knitted clothes now available from high street and supermarkets... courtesy of the sweat shops of south-east Asia... cost a few pounds and are bought and chucked at whim.

All in all... a sloppy bit of documentary. And by the way... I never met anyone in the 1950s who do actually have one of they knitted toilet-roll covers shaped like a crinolined lady that the programme delights in displaying and smirking over.

Plainly... my entire life have been spent in an alternate fashion past.

For uplift and real inspiration on fashion and the older generation I do recommend taking a look at Channel 4's "Fabulous Fashionistas" repeated.....  Marvel and Enjoy. (OOPs my mistake on original post. Correct time and channel is Sunday 22nd September 20.00 hrs. on Channel 4-7) 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Building work that Never Quite starts... Stir Crazy

Not sure how much longer we can cope with living on top of one another like this?

Never seen so many chairs in one room in all me life.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Sunday Morning

...Spending it chasing off the sparrowhawk who is patiently and outrageously waiting on a stake next to the bird feeder... queuing at the "canteen". Shoo... shoo ... shoo go I.

Spending it holding up the bean canes whilst The Old Man hammers more stakes into the ground and we tie it all together... against the forecasted gales.

Spending it up to me wrists in brioche dough... massaging in the butter .... gloop... yum.

Spending it listening to The Old Man's CD of  Ry Cooder & Corridos Famosos "Live in San Francisco".

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Grey Doll & Criminal Reading: V.M. Giambanco's "The Gift Of Darkness"

V.M. Giambanco is a successful film editor, Italian-born and London-based, she has a passion for Seattle.

Her debut crime thriller is set in that city and features Seattle Police Detective Alice Madison in a dark tale of  an old crime in an ancient forest, present-day murder and... perhaps.... twisted justice. Good characters and plenty of suspense, so naturally I did enjoy it very much and hope that there will be more "Alice Madison" books to come.

You can read an interview with the author on the publisher's site (Quercus).....
and the full EuroCrime review here.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Autumn Coming And The Rook Is Singing

It have been a good summer with hot, sunny days that finally give me squash and beans in the vegetable patch. A normal summer on this sea-surrounded bony peninsular with its mists, dews and granite hedges... do mean that precious few luscious vegetables survive the onslaught of snails and slugs. Believe me. I have tried most (non-poisonous) strategies known to woman. But at the moment, I count five squashes and some precious borlotti beans hanging from their canes.

The birds are keying into autumn activity. If you watch them you can realise that all that nesting and mating stuff doesn't just happen in spring. The sparrows in the yard have fledged their last brood  but ... The other day The Old Man did lean a ladder against the clematis that climbs the house wall in order to check out the sparrow nesting box above. Two sparrows immediately fly round him into the climber with a squawk and a chirp. The Old Man do back off immediately, thinking there must still be young in a nest in the climber itself. But after several days we come to the conclusion that the sparrow pair are minding the territorial shop. As our next door neighbour do say... they have "put their towels on the sun lounger"... staking a claim for next year's nest site.

Meanwhile... the rook do take up his singing post on a chimney or a TV aerial and he do sing his rookishly joyful song. No. Not "Caw-Caw" but a definite gruff and screamy song... It do have a rhythm and a repeat and a shape . "Ya-Ya. Yee-yeeh.." he shrieks. "Cruk-cruk.." he croons.
I wish I could give you a web-link to a recording of a rook's song but all everybody records is the mass calling in a rookery. What a shame. I love to hear the song of the rook. It is deeply uncharming and deeply celebratory.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Listening To... Laura Marling's Album "Once I Was An Eagle"

Laura Marling performing "I Was An Eagle" live in the KEXP studio.
Recorded May 15, 2013.
 Host: Cheryl Waters Audio Engineer: Kevin Suggs Cameras: Scott Holpainen, Jenna Pool & Justin Wilmore


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Grey Doll And Criminal Reading: "Savage Spring" by Mons Kallentoft

I did a quick post about Elmore Leonard who died recently.... One of the best in American crime writing, who set the benchmark for laconic, dry-witted, crime fiction. It's a style I very much like.

But to my surprise I find it's not the only style for me.

Different as chalk and cheese are the sassy grit of Leonard and the introspective, cool, Scandi-Noir of Mons Kallentoft. I really enjoyed Kallentoft's "Savage Spring", where the voices of the dead mix with the thoughts of the living. This crime story sees Malin Fors of the Linkoping Police trying to find the killer who set a fatal bomb blast in Linkoping town centre which killed two young girls. Alongside the hunt for the killer, we become involved in Malin's life as it is altered by her mother's death and the unfolding of its own family secrets. The writing is dark, psychological ... with poetic imagery. It is not a style to every crime fiction lover's tastes ... but I be surprised to find that it is as much to my taste as the wise-cracking snap of Leonard.

Here's the link to a Euro Crime review of "Savage Spring" ....which is the fourth in Kallentoft's crime series featuring detective Malin Fors.

I'm off to catch up with the earlier books... starting with an audio version of "Midwinter Sacrifice" .

Monday, 2 September 2013

Animated Discussions: "Cameraman" by Chris Ware & John Kuramoto

From "Short of the Week" here is another animated view of the power of the camera in this flash animation short from comic book artist Chris Ware & animator John Kuramoto.
Neat, sweet, and chilling.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Animated Discussions: Ana Kim: Bertie And Camera

Bertie and Camera from Ana Kim on Vimeo.

Animated Review picked this one out. It is indeed a lovely, stop motion animation short, incorporating drawn animation. It comes from Ana Kim, a recent graduate of Rhode Island School of design.

I have a thing about "camera" as a symbol. I did dream one time of a big blue polaroid-type camera... I never knew exactly what it meant, but that's the way with dream stuff. They resonate. Come to think of it... perhaps the "dream camera" is not simply a polaroid ... but one of those old-fashioned underwater cameras. Oh Yes. Photographing thedeeps... I do like that. I did make a replica dream camera out of driftwood and beach plastic. Then I did use  the dream camera as a woodcut image.... Endless fun with a camera.
Anyway I like this subtle, quiet, little piece very much.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Stop Motion Animation - Making "Skeleton Girl"

Found connection to this from StopMotion Pro... the animation software product used to film the short "Skeleton Girl" by Bleeding Art Industries.
It's a nice little piece about the work that goes into stop motion animation.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Pull-Along

You must know by now that The Old Man do have an interesting way with vocabulary. Age, medical conditions... and their requisite drugs... do not perhaps help. As he do get tireder... his grasp of nouns do get vaguer.

So he is recounting a friend's puzzlement as The Old Man requests if the friend could come round with his "Pull-Along". Some moments of this talk continues until the light dawns.

"You mean the trailer?" say friend.
"Yes. That's it... TRAILER... that's it."

The Old Man bemoans his lack of brainpower and wonders if they can install one of these new "tiny brain" things to help.... and if so... would they poke it in his ear and it find its right place?

Monday, 26 August 2013

Clouded Yellow

First blackberry and apple pie this weekend makes The Old Man very happy.

Walking today, looking for the next pie-makings, we see Clouded Yellow butterflies along the sea-facing lane. All the way from France? Maybe.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Dog Days

Swallows gathering. Plenty of butterflies. Even a dragonfly or two.
I do love the way birds be smart.

My neighbour says she takes her young dog up into the field behind the house. There the dog do romp around the grasses chasing the flies and insects that she do kick up. Swallows are flying low over the field and as the young girl-dog do chase one of them (who leads her around the field on an exhausting fruitless hunt)... the rest of the swallows do follow on behind them... snapping up the midges and flies what young dog do disturb in her running.

That's what I call the tail wagging the dog.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

RIP: Elmore Leonard - Big Daddy Of Crime Writing

Elmore Leonard: 1925-2013                         Photo: Wikipedia
I don't always read European crime stuff. I probably started reading crime fiction consistently after discovering Raymond Chandler. (Quelle surprise.)

But early on in my American crime fiction reading I discover Elmore Leonard and there is no doubt he was a master. Don't be fooled by the amount of Hollywood films that spin from his books. Elmore Leonard, who died yesterday at the age of 87, wrote crime fiction that became classics in their own right: sharp, sassy, tight, and gritty. I remember "Get Shorty" , "Out of Sight" and "Rum Punch".... I wish, amongst these, I could name a book that hasn't become a film.... but I can't. That's the way with Leonard. But for me the books came before the films.

Anyway... many people are referring to Leonard's "Ten rules of writing" to which Leonard himself added  "My most important rule is one that sums up the 10. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."

Mmmm... I prob'ly can't say I could be a writer then.... think I fall down on all ten points. But...
Thankyou, Mr Leonard, for all those books.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Keith Newstead & Rob Higgs Automata for Tonatore's "The Best Offer"

Video of Keith Newstead's automata work with Rob Higgs for two life size clockwork men for use as props for the film 'The Best Offer' by Tonatore .... (Director of "Cinema Paradiso").

Incredible work.
But if you don't like "clockwork humans" don't watch!

Shared from Keith Newstead's YouTube Spot.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Travels With My Film-Life: Berlin, 1931 - "Emil & The Detectives"

Ah! You do think I may be deep in the rise of Hitler and such, here in 1930s Berlin.... But no....
I am enjoying the innocence of a ragamuffin childhood as I join village boy Emil, robbed of his money by a bowler-hatted villain who do drug poor Emil as he travels by train to Berlin to stay with his grandmother. (Moral: Do not accept sweets from dodgy strangers, children!) In Berlin Emil is helped by a friendly gang of children (aka "The Detectives") to track down the bowler-hatted villain and find a way to get Emil's money back. Watch out for the car-horn tooting gang leader. Toot-toot!

Based on the famous children's book  "Emil & The Detectives", written by Erich Kastner, this 1931 German version is by Gerhard Lamprecht and has a script written by a pre-Hollywood Billy Wilder.

This is the kind of kids story that makes me feel good. Not sure why. But I remember my favourite children's book was "A Hundred Million Francs" by Paul Berna... which is set in postwar France but in many ways is a very similar story... a gang of ragamuffins track down the villains that steal something precious from them.

On the same DVD as this German 1931 film is the BFI restored 1935 English version...
Here's an extract for you.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Greydoll And Criminal Reading: "Generation Loss" by Elizabeth Hand

So, a crime book that I do read recently is "Generation Loss" by Elizabeth Hand. 

I think this is a good one. Set in America, the coast of Maine for the most part. It's "enfant always terrible" protagonist is a New York punk photographer, Cass Neary. She is a devil though... Dragon Tattoo's Lisbeth Salander on speed. Which is most probably true.

She gets, or think she gets, a commission to interview an aging photographer on her island home. Once Cass gets her chaotic self there, the atmosphere gets darker and death steps up. Cass is obsessive about photography. And the "Generation Loss" referred to by the book's title is - in the photographic context - the loss of quality when an image is successively copied.

If you like dark, if you like thrillers, and if you are an analogue photography geek... this is a book to try.

And, of course, you can read a detailed Euro Crime review here.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Let There Be Light

Yesterday the roof of the plastic lean-to was taken off ready for building work.

The Old Man and me stagger around in the blaze of daylight coming through the house windows.

This mornin' The Old Man do say:
"It's like waking up with snow on the ground....."

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Just So You Know...

(... yes... this is me looking uncharacteristically "pokey".... which is The Old Man's in-house slang for "irritable"...)

.....just so's you know and in case the posts get more erratic or more grumpy than usual.... Me and The Old Man are embarking on a bit of rebuilding.... in that the plastic bit on the back of the house what be leaking, spider-infested and falling apart.... is being replaced by something a bit more robust.

This have meant a bit of worry... and a bit of getting to grips with molto troppo belongings. That is to say... sifting through and moving them.

We therefore be grumpy, anxious and tired. And this be likely to go on for a month or two. With apologies if the posts get too ratty or fail to appear.

Viva building work!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Greydoll & Criminal Reading: The Namesake By Conor Fitzgerald

I do read crime fiction when I can.... It's not just for Mrs D you know.

A while back I do read "The Namesake" by Irish writer Conor Fitzgerald - part of his crime series featuring an American-born Rome police detective, Alec Blume.

"The Namesake" plunges Blume into the Calabrian Mafia... initially in a very unlikely vehicle and with a very unlikely travelling companion. As the book progressed I grew to understand and like Blume....(there's a touch of humour in there .... for I came to the conclusion that Blume is a naturally awkward man.) You got me with this one Mr Fitzgerald, I'm ready to read more.

Read a Euro Crime review here..... and give the Alec Blume books a go.

Friday, 2 August 2013

My Weekend Creepy Telly Done Gone...

Alors! My dose of French creepiness (The Returned) do finish last week.
In short... The Returned have gone but the good news is that The Returned Are Returning!

The Old Man says enough is enough (for him) of zombies. He will not watch The Returned when they do return.

Il a perdu son courage pour de telles choses..... tant pis.