Thursday, 28 July 2016

Hoping To Catch Sight Of "The Man Engine"

sometime soon ...cos who can resist the prospect of being in the presence of a 40 foot high mechanical puppet?

Well. Not I.

This marvelous, powered, puppet of a Cornish miner started its tour of heritage mining sites and towns, from West Devon to Cornwall, earlier on this week and the tour finishes at Geevor on Sat 6th August. Unfortunately it won't be "transforming" to full height at all of its stopping places precisely because of the mining history it celebrates ... some sites won't bear its weight because of the underlying tunnels and workings. But plenty of celebrations are planned for its route ... with Penzance throwing in a Steam Punk fancy dress theme for spectators. Find out more about its progress at The Man Engine site.

The Old Man and me wish it well and hope to clap eyes on its noisy, fumy glory.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Cherry On The Top...

Well. Not on the top exactly. Quite low down on the tree in fact. And all alone. 

This is the first ripe cherry borne by the cherry tree at the bottom of the garden... a tree already planted and growing when we moved in. So let me add that in more than a decade I have not seen another on its branches.

Is the start of things to come? Or a cherry moment? Do I savour it? Or not? Answer quickly, do.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Old Man's Hair: The Official Tail

A staging post has been reached. 
The Old Man has refused to get his hair cut for so long ... now, it can be pony-tailed. Of course, he can't actually do the essential styling himself. That job falls to me ... along with explanations as to the tools necessary for the job - suitable hairbrush, them little elasticky things to twist round it, and so on. 
But it stops him complaining about eating his hair for lunch. And it do fool some people, who think it is important that he do so, that he has cut his hair. And it do give him and me some kind of retro joy. And at our age and in these times we need all the joy we can get.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Greydoll's Criminal Reading: "The Catalyst Killing" by Hans Olav Lahlum

Back in 1970, I was a student. It was a time of revolution, rebellion and sitting-in. This didn't happen much in my own college... which was a great source of disappointment to some of our tutors who, I think, fancied themselves as being at the heart of change. But then teaching (yeah, right) at an art college in a West Country town more conformist than my own native suburbia was perhaps not the anarchist hub they might have tried for if their hearts were in it. (OK - I didn't enjoy my stay there.) I do remember that some student union meetings where quite vocal... but these never really resulted in any kind of decision because the various student factions were challenging Each Other more than The Authorities.... usually about agenda structure and points of order.

So it is that my ancient bones remember the political flavour of the late 1960s and early 1970s setting for "The Catalyst Killing" by Hans Olav Lahlum. (Translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson. Paperback, Pan Macmillan, 2016) and another find from my local bookshop.

The story begins one evening when Inspector Kolbjorn Kristiansen is mesmerised by the expression of fear on the face of a young woman desperately running to catch his train. The doors close on her. And later her murdered body is found on the train tracks. It is Kristiansen (known as K2) who must find her killer and who soon discovers that her boyfriend, the charismatic leader of a small, radically left-wing, political group, had disappeared two years before. Political rivalry? Or was his death linked to his research into possible current links between a group of Norwegian Nazis from the war years. And was his girlfriend's death connected to his disappearance?

Set in Norway in 1970 this murder mystery conjures the era of Mao's Little Red Book and its effect upon world politics and the fashionably radical young. Starting from the base of the student political group, K2 is presented with a tight list of possible witness interviews. We follow the progress of his interviews and crime-scene visits, punctuated by his lunches and suppers with his gifted and mysteriously accurate detection-muse, the young Patricia. Meanwhile the crimes themselves escalate.

I will own up that I am not a particular fan of Agatha Christie-style whodunits. So, when I realised how much I was in classic "whodunit land" with this book - the third in Lahlum's series featuring K2 and his young helper - I didn't think I would enjoy it. But I did.
It reads smoothly and coolly in this English translation by Kari Dickson. Instead of a boring traipse through clues, I found a calm narrative pace which surprised me with a great buildup of suspense as it ran to its conclusion. And Lahlum's writing gives us individualised characters, irony, humanity... and a slightly surreal world conjured by a combination of investigation, coincidence and the truly prodigious gifts of Patricia.

If you are a little tired of the relentless grit of much Nordic Noir .... and if the notion of 1960s Nordic retro-whodunits whets your appetite ... try this series of books by Hans Olav Lahlum.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Settling The Bill At The Post Referendum Café

"Service? We'd like to settle up. What are you paying us?


What do you mean we have to pay you? You said there would be lots of spare money and you would feed us wonderfully after we Brexited."


Really? Well I don't think we'll be coming back here in a hurry, then.

(Comments Off...)

What do you mean you are the only café in town now?

Monday, 4 July 2016

Last Orders At The Post Referendum Café


"Hallo. Today for starters we have a choice of....
Dithers with a side order of Confusion; a warm salad of Backstabbers; or a small plate of Cold Regrets.

For Mains we have ... Roulette Aux Crabb; Brexit of Leadsom; Blanquette du Fox au Sri Lankan Hobnobbing; Gove a la Murdoch; Theresa with a side order of Relief aux Chagrin ... or
Corbyn Ostracised and Served in a Vacuum.

And if you wish to choose your dessert now, we can offer you ... Eton Mess, Westminster Mess, UK Mess or Europe Mess (the difference is in the size of the portions)... Oh ... and we do have a very small portion of Hope on a Bed of  Dual Citizenship.

May I take your order now?"