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.