HaydninVienna (Richard) tentatively pushes open the door and looks around ...
This topic was continued by HaydninVienna (Richard) is now settled in comfortably ....
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[Looks around] This looks like a friendly sort of place ...
Well, here I am. Thanks clamairy and hfglen for inviting me. I've been looking around LT for a while, and posted in a few places, and then hfglen got a BB near miss with Skyfaring (which I already own, and have read) and a direct hit with Beyond the Blue Horizon. The people here sound like my kind of people. BTW I love trains too. And dessert wine. And cheese.
MWM, late middle age. Lawyer. Interests literary, musical, non-heroic. I've been a legislative counsel (a professional rule-drafter) for 27 years in 4 jurisdictions. I can't remember a time when I wasn't reading. I used to read a lot of SFF but not so much now, although my latest big read was The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser, which I see is on one of Morphy's lists. As to other things on the list--I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time in 1966, when it was on the list of recommended reading for the Senior Public Examination (equivalent to A-levels--last 2 years before university) in Queensland where I grew up.
I don't care for challenges or competitive reading, having taken Dr Johnson's advice to heart long ago. I'm an absolute wuss about violence so no graphic stuff.
Welcome to the pub! There's a new batch of PGGBs, but go easy, it's pretty raw still.
Before too many PGGB’a are had I need to ask - train lover, or train nerd?
I love trains, but don’t know as much about them as some people might do.
>3 Busifer: Train lover rather than nerd. My preferred means of surface travel. I’ve even travelled by sleeper train between Linköping and Stockholm.
>4 hfglen: As to train nerds, now, a former colleague of mine is a nerd’s nerd. What the aviation world might call a rivet-counter. We saw him here in Doha a couple of years ago when he was on his way back to Oz after visiting a railway system somewhere in Bulgaria.
Thanks for the welcomes, all. Now, about those PGGBs ...
Welcome, Richard! I'm so glad you took the plunge.
Have a nibble while we get acquainted.
Thanks >6 clamairy: . Ooh, lovely! I’ll look around and see if there’s some quince paste to go with it all.
What’s the one in the middle with the dark spots?
>9 majkia: And the SPITTING COBRAS! (Which actually haven't been seen in a year or 2 -- wonder if any are still around?)
>5 haydninvienna: As it’s a 2 hour ride I’d say the sleeper train seems like quite the feat, but I guess the train was destined for Malmö, or Copenhagen :-)
I’m a train lover myself, prefer trains for travelling, but has also spent some time working for the government agency which provides for the national railway network so know a fair bit about at least Swedish rail infrastructure. Which perhaps makes me seem a bit nerdy, to others.
(Hugh, I think maybe the SPITTING COBRAS has made a run for it?)
(Wanders off in search for some Tomme pur chevre cheese...)
>1 haydninvienna: Welcome to the group! I look forward to following your thread.
I don’t enjoy challenges either. I just want to read what I want to read when I want to read it, with no added pressure that might turn my entertainment into a chore.
And for the record, I’m a train ignoramus. :)
I'm all in with the no challenges thing. I hope you start a thread full of spur-of-the-moment, guilt-free reading. Mine is called the Undisciplined Reading room because, well, who needs discipline with reading?
Once again, thanks all. Yes, >8 clamairy: and >16 reconditereader: it definitely does look tasty. >17 Bookmarque: Definitely spur-of-the-moment and I absolutely agree. In proof of which, I just added On the Future: Prospects for Humanity by Martin Rees to my wishlist, on the strength of this article: https://www.quantamagazine.org/martin-rees-on-the-future-of-science-and-humanity.... I would really, really like to think that humanity does have a future. I'm going back to England tomorrow morning and the indie bookshop in Bicester may well have it.
>13 Busifer: I still have the e-ticket for that train journey. (Yes, I'm a pack-rat for some things.) The ride from Stockholm Central to Linköping Central on the Snabbtåg took 1h37 min. Coming back, the sleeper left Linköping Central at 0248 and arrived at Stockholm Central at 0600. Quite comfortable and I even managed to sleep. I have done the rail trip up the west coast from Copenhagen-Kastrup to Gothenburg though (flew into Kastrup even though my actual destination was Gothenburg specifically to be able to cross the Öresund Bridge).
Incidentally, >17 Bookmarque:, I approve of your hyphenation. One of the things that irritates me where I work is people that write "off-balance sheet" instead of "off-balance-sheet". The first one makes me wonder about a balance-sheet that's going to tip over.
After the near misses from hfglen that I mentioned in #1, I wonder if there's a list of great aviation books on LT. (wanders off to look ...). No obvious lists, but if you put Skyfaring into a search and look at the recommendations, you get some really odd results. You get Fate is the Hunter, which I have, but no St.-Exupéry. The kind of thing I'm looking for would be books "for anyone who ever loved the thought of flying", as the colophon of the old Aeroplane magazine had it. (Stupid me--I went to the magazine's website to check, and saw this: https://aeroplanemonthly.keypublishing.com/2018/11/01/spitfire-completes-5000-pl.... Oh my ears and whiskers.)
Right, shutting up now. This is supposed to be about books, dammit.
Edited to get the closing parenthesis in the right place.
>18 haydninvienna: Re: Flying in at Kastrup to be able to cross the Öresund Bridge: Definitely the kind of decision I would had made! Sometimes drives my family a bit mad but they still allow me to be head of itinerary planning, so maybe I'm doing OK.
Welcome to the Green Dragon from me too! It's great to have new members to share book bullets and chat with. My dad is a great train enthusiast and my sister and I grew up being taken on steam railways and to rallies all over Britain. Good times!
Should we start a controversial thread about whether it's non-fiction or nonfiction? lol
How very nice to meet a new member of the pub! Welcome.
Here is some quince jam I made this year. My first effort, having always been terrified of the process of jam-making before. I made a second batch which came out much lighter in color. Both are terrific with cheese.
>22 Bookmarque: Either, as long as it's not "non fiction". Thanks Sakerfalcon and MrsLee. The quince jam looks good. Quinces are a greatly under-appreciated fruit. A while back I was seeing great big slabs of "dulce de membrillo" in the supermarket here: 500 gm (more than a pound, for you non-metric types). I was tempted, but it would have taken me, solo, ages to get through a slab.
>22 Bookmarque: In Sweden books that are not fiction, and are not travelogies or biographies or self-help or such placed in the ”facts” section.
Non-fiction has always felt like a value judgement: fiction is good, and everything else is non-fiction?
So I’m back in Bicester and I find that the indie bookshop has moved into fine new, larger premises (piquantly, right next to a W H Smith). Anyone passing through Bicester, I encourage you to have a look at Coles Bookshop. While I was there, the following new friends sauntered up and introduced themselves:
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Spitfire: A Very British Love Story by John Nicol
The River in the Sky by Clive James
A Christmas Carol and Other Stories by Charles Dickens.
No pleading puppy eyes here—they just said Hi, do you want to be best buds? So I had to say yes. And I ordered the book by Lord Rees that I mentioned in #18.
And a quick visit to the British Heart Foundation charity shop produced a nice Modern Library of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and a fairly old and rather daggy The Trial by Franz Kafka.
Edited to get the right Stevenson book—I saw Kidnapped there but didn’t buy it.
>29 haydninvienna: Your post brought me back to a 1973 trip with my parents, and an aunt and uncle. The aunt & uncle were showing us the Midlands and we passed through Bicester. We later stopped in Broadway for lunch. It was a beautiful day and the countryside was beautiful.
I would certainly drop into any indie bookshop I spotted in Bicester, or anywhere else for that matter. :-)
Hi there haydnincienna!
You found the right place, although, it is often raucous with Roombas, spitting cobras, and food fights--and probably a dozen other things I can't recall at the moment. I tend to be an in-the-background sort of denizen here, preferring to sit in a corner with large urns of coffee and read (or play the guitar) rather than indulge in the PGGBs.
If you happen to look at my profile page, please understand it's been updated once in the past six years or so. A lot has changed since then and it may be another year before I get the wherewithal to work on it.
>30 pgmcc: I’ll return the favour, kind of, by mentioning that I worked in Dublin for the Attorney-General’s office between 2008 and 2011 (in that gorgeous building on Merrion Street next to the National Museum). I loved Dublin. I hope Hodges Figgis is still going strong, even though it’s not exactly indie.
I have to admit that I’d only been there a couple of months when one of my colleagues mentioned at morning tea time that it was Bloomsday and I looked at him blankly. I know better now.
And hi right back at you, >31 WholeHouseLibrary:!
>32 haydninvienna: Hodges Figgis was independent until it was bought by EMI in the 1990s. It is now part of the Waterstones group but has retained its own identity to benefit from its legacy. This year it is celebrating its 250th year in business. It would be my favourite big bookshop.
>33 jillmwo: I joined this group because it seem to have a bunch of really nice people! Bicester is about 14 miles by road north-east of Oxford. It serves as something of a dormitory suburb of Oxford, in fact. Also the location of Bicester Village, which may be the largest outlet centre in Europe. Lucky Bicester.
>34 pgmcc: Mine too, anywhere, except possibly for Foyles in London! I knew that HF was part of Waterstones. Didn't there use to be a Waterstones right across Dawson Street? (Checks Google Maps) Nope. But since when is Tower Records in Dawson Street? Smart thinking on Waterstones' part not to rebrand HF, anyway.
>35 haydninvienna: I know Foyles by reputation only. I have never managed to visit it. :-(
Waterstones was just across the road from Hodges Figgis. The group closed its Dublin Waterstones outlets during the recession but I believe they kept their Cork store open. Hodges Figgis was kept open because, well, it is Hodges Figgis.
I always thought it funny when Waterstones was directly opposite Hodges Figgis; if you asked for assistance looking for a book in one of the shops and they did not have what you wanted they would advise you to go to other bookshops but never recommended the shop directly across the road. It reminded me of my days as a student in Belfast in the 1970s. There were two pubs directly opposite each other on Stranmillis Road, The Eglington Inn (AKA "The Egg") and The Botanic Inn (AKA "The Bot"). If anyone was refused a drink in one pub they stormed out complaining they could go across the road and that they would never be back in the pub that refused them. Only a few of us knew that the two pubs were owned by the same family. :-)
>36 pgmcc: One of my colleagues (who is South African) was complaining the other day about the bookshop in London that he spends far too much money in when he is in London, but he couldn't remember its name. Took me less than a microsecond to say "Oh, you mean Foyles?" He did. Its cafe is a decent place for a snack and a cuppa too--much better than the cafes in Waterstones.
On Saturday afternoon my wife and I were at the Barbican Centre in London for a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “operetta” Candide. (The quotation marks are because it’s most certainly not like most works called “operetta”.) The Barbican shop yielded a copy of The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell. I started reading it last night. It's a fast, fun read. One of the LT reviewers described the tone as "whining". I didn't get that--I thought it was entertaining although I wouldn't go so far as "hilarious". There's a lot in there about how narrow the profit margins are, and a certain amount of complaining about customers who try to skin those narrow margins even further. I notice that bookshop reviewers frequently complain about high prices. I'd like to know more about the economics of the used book trade, but maybe it's better to stay ignorant. Reading Bythell's book, something that I had figured out for myself became painfully obvious: a shop has stock, which has a cash value and significant carrying cost, plus all the usual business overheads. All or almost all of the stock has to be paid for up front. (Charity shops like Oxfam are an exception because their stock is donated, and it's possible that they are as big a threat to the for-profit used book stores as Amazon.) But the big shops like Barter Books at Alnwick must have hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of stock, most of which was paid for in cash. That's the shop's capital, and the interest cost on that capital is significant.
I've written in another thread about the stickers I found in a shop in Montreal:
Bythell's shop is in Wigtown, the Scottish book town. A couple of years ago my elder daughter Katherine (the reader) and I did the tour of all 3 of the book towns in the UK. Everybody here knows about Hay-on-Wye, but Wigtown is less familiar, and how many of you can name the third one? (Sedbergh, in England, in the Yorkshire Dales.) All are pleasant places if the weather is good. One thing that struck me is that all of them basically depend on private transport. All 3 used to have railway stations but none does now. There are bus services, but who prefers a bus to a train? Not me. All 3 are old towns which were really not built for motor traffic, and the road between Sedbergh and Keswick (nearest railway station) is quite, er, scenic.
Fab performance of Candide BTW. Sir Thomas Allen as Dr Pangloss and Ann-Sofie von Otter as the Old Lady display an unexpected talent for stage business. Wonderful singing all round, the London Symphony Orchestra in top form and Marin Allsop conducting zestfully and taking part in the stage fun.
I'm a bit late in getting here but welcome! I've always wanted to go to Hay-on-Wye, but now you've added two more places to go to the list! (I too love Foyles when I get a chance to visit the UK and am in London - being absolutely honest - the first thing I look for on any trip whichever town/city I'm visiting in the UK is a bookshop - continuing with the honesty in other English speaking countries as well. If only my other linguistic skills were up to it I'd probably be tempted in other countries as well!)
If you're in a Scandinavian country odds are you'll find lots of books in the English language, even in small bookshops. SF-bokhandeln (Swedish Science Fiction/Fantasy/Manga/Gaming "book"shop) certainly is 99% English language.
>40 Busifer: Don't tempt me! When I'm overseas I try to reduce my book buying to interesting books about places that I've actually visited and not add to the general collection! I'm already fighting a battle with the rate of growth of the TBR pile.
>41 Peace2: Don't we all... in general only London demands bookshop visits. Else I try to travel as light going home as going out.
I've reached the stage in life were I can only add stuff if other stuff goes.
>38 haydninvienna: I went to the Sunday evening performance of Candide! It was terrific. I loved Allsop's interactions with the cast too.
Just finished reading Stranger to the Ground by Richard Bach. This was another book I picked off the shelf in Bicester. It was Bach's first book, long before the days of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I first read it many years ago, and I'm pleased to find that the Suck Fairy hasn't bestowed her baneful attentions on it. I was reminded of it by hfglen's reference here to Skyfaring by Mark Vanhoenacker (which I also have, and think is wonderful).
Edited to close parentheses properly!
I feel the need to vent a little. This is kind of on topic with some members' feelings about how some new books appear not to have been edited. Rant follows.
Some time in the past, my work email address got to a place it shouldn't have gone, and I get many email circulars for dodgy-looking "training courses". Dodgy in the sense that I don't see how they could possibly do what they promise. This one arrived today:
It then gives the dates and locations. Two days, in either Kuala Lumpur or Dubai.
Two days? Really? To do all that? I've been trying to learn that stuff for 50 years and haven't managed to get there yet. And I don't think it's because I'm stupid. But doesn't the circular rather give itself away? Starts "The ability to write clearly and concisely is a critical skill, regardless of your hierarchy in a company". How many things can you find wrong with that sentence? Better: "You need to be able to write clearly and concisely, whatever your level in your organisation". Two words shorter, removes an abstract noun and removes the confusion of "your hierarchy". I'm not going to attempt to rewrite the rest of it because it's Thursday afternoon (the day before the weekend for us) and I'm too lazy. But seriously!
OK, end rant. Sorry.
My favourite story about learning how to write: back in the olden times when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a very junior law clerk and student, my master solicitor read an assignment I'd written and said "You know, you write like a judge". He didn't mean it as a compliment. I have spent the succeeding mumble-mumble years trying not to write like a judge. (Ironically, he became a judge himself not too long afterwards.)
(Ironically, he became a judge himself not too long afterwards.)
When that happened did he come back to you for some writing tips?
>47 pgmcc: Oddly enough, no. I looked up some of his judgments though, and he writes clear, efficient prose.
Started Pickwick Papers, which I've never read before, on Thursday evening, and finished it yesterday. It actually zips along pretty well. In the first hundred pages we get the episode of Jingle and the spinster, and then the madman's manuscript. Nothing seems to turn on the manuscript. I wonder if Dickens was just making it up as he went along, trying to get as much in that would please the subscribers, with no better idea than anyone else how it would all turn out. Odd how much the first hundred pages reminded me of Thomas Love Peacock, in that there's the same mockery of Lord Brougham's Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Some of the same tropes, like the group of friends on a journey. Even the tone is similar, although Peacock is a better writer in some ways (less given to pompous circumlocution for comic effect, for example, and Peacock seems to have had a clear idea of what was to happen). But it soon becomes obvious that Dickens could do things that Peacock couldn't. Peacock could never have created Sam Weller, for example. Whoever said that the book is pretty ordinary until Sam Weller appears was right.
In the end I enjoyed it more than I expected. It made me laugh out loud at least once, of which more in a moment. I think now I can contemplate reading some of his later, more serious novels, and I have A Christmas Carol all cued up ready.
Dickens obviously disliked (most) lawyers and the justice system of the day, apparently with reason. The point where I laughed is the moment during the trial of Bardell v Pickwick when Sam Weller gives evidence that Mrs Bardell and her friends had spoken of the generosity of Dodson & Fogg (Mrs Bardell's attorneys) in having taken up the case "on spec, and to charge nothin' at all for costs, unless they got 'em out of Mr Pickwick". I would have liked for the notes to explain why "Dodson and Fogg turned very red", and why Serjeant Buzfuz abruptly discharged Sam from the witness box, but that's just me. Sam was giving evidence of what another person had said. What Sam said was hearsay about (and so not admissible as evidence of) what Dodson and Fogg had done, but the point was that at that time, taking on the conduct of an action for a plaintiff on the basis that no costs would be charged unless the plaintiff succeeded was professionally improper and (I think) constituted both a civil wrong and a crime, called champerty. Serjeant Buzfuz stopped his examination of Sam for that reason, in case Sam said a bit too much. Dickens had been a court reporter, and had obviously been a spectator at a good many trials.
One minor editing oddity I noticed in the Penguin edition, which is supposed to be based on the first published complete edition of the book, is that the title of the two senior counsel, "Serjeant", is so spelt up to the end of chapter 30, but after that becomes "Sergeant". There is nothing I can see in the Note on the Text to explain this. The Project Gutenberg text has "Serjeant" throughout. That spelling is correct, at least in terms of the usage of the time. The Serjeants were an order of advocates who at one time had the exclusive right to practice in the Court of Common Pleas, where Bardell v Pickwick was brought. Over time, after Sir Francis Bacon was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1600 or thereabouts, most senior advocates were appointed as Queen's or King's Counsel rather than Serjeants, and the order of Serjeants gradually died out.
There's a lot of law in Dickens, one way and another. I wonder if a lawyer who knows the history of the English courts has ever written about Dickens?
>48 haydninvienna: he writes clear, efficient prose.
So, he does not write like a judge?
Until about four years ago the only Dickens novels I had read were A Christmas Carol and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I thoroughly enjoyed them but never got around to reading more Dickens until a few years ago when someone was starting a reading thread on Great Expectations. I joined in and enjoyed that.
Since then I have read Bleak House, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. Dickens has become comfort reading to me and I look forward to Pickwick Papers.
By the way, speaking of judges writing, have you read anything by Cyril Hare?
>50 pgmcc:, >51 pgmcc: He may of course have been exaggerating the difficulty of judicial prose! I just now skimmed the judgments in the great case of Donoghue v. Stevenson, and find them quite easy to read for the time (1932). But not all judicial writing is as good as that. My least favourite judge to read, while I was a student, was Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia. Better not be too rude because he is still alive, but I always found his judgments harder to read than those of the other High Court judges.
And there was the time, when my elder son was a wee babe and I was trying to get him to go to sleep one night, that I decided to fix him good and proper, and started to read aloud to him from a judgment I was then reading. Ten minutes of Lord Justice Roskill's deathless prose and he was soundly asleep. (That's actually not fair to Roskill LJ: I just went back and looked at so much of the judgment as I could find non-paywalled, and it's actually not bad. But still pretty dense.)
I've read Oliver Twist, and of course the musical Oliver! is pretty thoroughly sanitised. I remember a radio announcer, who was about to play some of the music, describing Fagin as a "lovable rogue". Rogue he might be but lovable, certainly not. And I read Bleak House on a train on the way across Canada once. More lawyers.
I've vaguely heard of Cyril Hare, but never read anything of his. Having looked at the Wikipedia article on him, I think I might investigate further. I see MrsLee has Tragedy at Law, and the LT reviews are sufficiently favourable. Eyejaybee's first review calls it a "legal procedural", a term I've not seen before. There probably isn't a large reading public for legal procedurals.
I have read and enjoyed Tragedy at Law and picked up two other titles by him on the strength of it. (When the Wind Blows and Untimely Death)
"Murder mystery" is the category I would put "Tragedy at Law" in, sub-category, "Cozy Crime".
I found the work humerous and intriguing. The intrigue was due to the insights into the operation of the South of England court circuit concerned.
In this regard, should one mention the works of Henry Cecil, if only as an example of "that nisi prius nuisance who just now is rather rife / the judicial humorist"? I'm sure both of you gentlemen will readily recognise the source of the quote.
>54 pgmcc: OK, I'll take that as a BB. I see that most of his books are still in print, which at least proves that they have staying-power.
>55 hfglen: I wouldn't bet that Henry Cecil's legal humour has survived quite so well, despite that the first LT review of Cecil's Brothers in Law is headed "A FUND OF FUNNY LEGAL STORIES FROM THE FIFTIES WHICH IS TIMELESS". I tend to agree with Gilbert about judicial humourists. But why not A. P. Herbert? And back in days of yore I read Miscellany-at-Law by R. E. Megarry, who was also author or co-author of a respected text on the law of real property and became a judge.
I'm feeling a bit confoozled. I've just spent about 20 minutes in online chat with Target. I got a couple of emails from the addressed to a fellow in Roscommon Michigan who happens to have the same first initial and last name as I do, and a similar email address, and made a slight but crucial omission from his email address when he set up his account with them. Consequently I've been getting his email. While I wouldn't mind a new iPad, I doubt if Target would deliver it to Doha. I now have 8 emails to my email address asking me to confirm the correction. I've had a couple of exchanges with him by text message and he is very apologetic but Target doesn't seem to be able or willing to do much. Anyway, he will get his iPad.
And off the chain in London today. Visited Foyles, and bought:
The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
And a translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight which isn’t within reach and I’m too lazy to go upsatairs and get it
And then to Waterstones in Piccadilly to get a copy of Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookshop to replace the one I left in a cab a couple of weeks ago.
In Waterstones I was involved in a somewhat unusual conversation. After finding my book I went to the counter with it, and there was a woman there in deep conversation with a member of the staff. I gathered that the staff member had recommended Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow and she thought it was terrific. He had apparently then recommended Towles’ second one and she had thought that was pretty good too, but couldn’t remember the title, so I chipped in and said ”Rules of Civility”. They looked at me in surprise and I pointed to it on the nearby shelf. Anyway, Waterstones Guy had another recommendation so they said would I mind waiting a minute (of course not) so they went over to the shelves and came back with another book. The woman then said to me “You go next and then I’ll follow on”. So I passed Mr Penumbra across and the Waterstones Guy said how good it was too. I explained how I was replacing the other copy and then said how nice it was to find someone working in Waterstones who was actually interested in and knowledgeable about what he was selling, and he said “Oh, yes! It’s the best job in the world!” And apparently meant it.
So of course I produced my phone and showed them the LibraryThing page. Waterstones Guy made a note of the URL.
>60 haydninvienna: I love conversations like that! The staff at the Waterstones in Trafalgar Square are usually very friendly and knowledgeable too, I've found.
>60 haydninvienna: Great shopping trip! Nice recommendations, too. So what was the third book the Waterstones guy recommended that they went to get? I ask because I enjoyed the two by Towles, though they were very different from each other.
>67 rolandperkins: You were right with Middle English (checked on the common knwledge section of the book page)
>66 pgmcc: Neither of them had a Belfast accent, anyway. Aren’t we all a bunch of book-addicted mutual enablers?
>67 rolandperkins: According to the Introduction, it’s in a “relatively difficult dialect” of Middle English. I can sort of read Chaucer’s Middle English, but Sir Gawain in the original defeated me.
>67 rolandperkins: >69 haydninvienna: AFAIK it's a north-western (Cheshire, Lancashire) dialect. Scouse still isn't the easiest form of English for foreigners. (I had an uncle who was Prof. of English at Stellenbosch for years; he and my aunt did major good works in introducing me to the best bits of the language.)
I thought I would like that one, but chucked it soon after starting it. Alas. And this is the book you want Word by Word
>75 Bookmarque: Ha! Didn’t check the touchstone, did I! Of course I meant the Kory Stamper book. Now fixed.
I started reading Word by Word on the day it arrived, not something I do often. It’s now the following morning and I’m still chortling. I’m not a lexicographer but a legislative counsel, which is another kind of harmless drudge. But there’s enough in common between the kinds of drudgery that I understand where Kory is coming from. Definitions, for example.
>78 pgmcc: What we do in the Definitions or Interpretation or Glossary section of a bill. For example:
That’s an actual definition from one of our sets of rules.
Sorry, I may have been a little brief there. What I meant was that Kory has a good bit to say about the complexity of writing good definitions. We have some of those issues as well.
Also, there are mindsets that develop. Lexicographers develop particular mindsets that affect their reading. So do drafters. I remember at a conference once hearing the UK’s First Parliamentary Counsel say that he couldn’t watch TV because he kept analysing every sentence that he heard to find out exactly what they meant. My wife complains about how literal-minded I am.
Anyhow, it’s mid-afternoon on a surprisingly pleasant although chilly Christmas Eve in southern England and I’m sat in our conservatory with a shot of rye and a book. Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, and have a fabulous day if you don’t.
Merry Christmas, haydninvienna. I hope you and yours have a lively time. Thank you for the definition. I am glad you made that clear.
I have just made the stuffing and shall be getting the ham and turkey in the oven soon.
I just realised that I joined this group only three weeks ago. Thank you all, Dragoneers, for the fun I’ve had since. This really is one of the best virtual places on the net. I wish all of you a wonderful day, and hope to see you back in the pub soon.
Hope you and your family are enjoying a very Merry Christmas! Also that you get time to read your new books!
The postman this morning brought:
A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
Borges and the Eternal Orang-Utans by Luis Fernando Verissimo.
Then my wife and I went into Bicester to do a few errands and went into a cafe for lunch. The place was very busy and we would have a significant wait for our food. She had a book, I didn’t. (I had left mine at home: too much risk of leaving it somewhere.) so I went across the street to The Works, which was having a sale, and picked up the following for £1 each:
Her Royal Spyness and A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen
In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear
A Letter of Mary and Garment of Shadows by Laurie R King
Date with the Executioner by Edward Marston.
The Works isn’t exactly literary, but I’ve seen all six books praised on LT, and at that price I don’t mind taking the small risk.
>89 haydninvienna: I hope you enjoy A Night in the Lonesome October. I have begun a tradition of reading it annually. At thirty-one chapters that makes one per evening leading up to All Hallows Eve. First time I read it, I tore through it all at once. Spreading subsequent reads out over the entire month makes it a fun re-read.
Oh, I thought you had to buy something to leave, since you didn't bring one.
That's quite a haul for such a good price. I am a big fan of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King, several of the others in your haul are in my ereader, waiting to be read.
I had another small haul from the British Heart Foundation shop this morning. I dropped off a bag of donated books but bought a copy of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch (Penguin Modern Classics ed), and one of the weirdest books I’ve ever bought, which I bought only because it’s so weird. It is The Periodic Table of Poems by one Peter Davern, who is apparently a chemistry lecturer at the University of Limerick in Ireland. The book is a series of 92 short verses describing the 92 traditional chemical elements plus one more for the transuranium elements, and giving a page or so of description with each verse. As to the quality of the verses, let’s say that Mr Davern is at no risk of becoming Poet Laureate.
The copy I bought has an inscription in it from “Peter” (presumably the author) to someone named Mark. The inscription is dated in May 2018. Short trip from presentation to charity shop!
In MrsLee's thread about New Year plans (https://www.librarything.com/topic/301090), I promised to tell why I didn't get much sleep on the night of 29 December. Are you sitting comfortably?
The setup is that I have a stepdaughter Alexandra, who lives in Port Macquarie, a smallish resort town on the eastern coast of Australia. Alexandra has recently been crossed in love, by a fellow she has been in an on-off relationship with for a while. The fellow is mostly pleasant enough but is what we Australians call a no-hoper--he is basically commitment-shy and a spendthrift, and has a drug problem which resurfaces when he gets stressed. The relationship is currently off, and Christine (my wife, Alexandra's mother) and I want to make sure that it stays that way. At this point, I need to stress that this is not a story of family drama; the drama is just the background to the story I'm telling.
You may also have noticed that I travel a lot, and therefore tend to pile up lots of frequent-flyer points, which I find hard to make use of. Christine suggested that I use some points to buy Alexandra a ticket to come and stay with me in Doha for a few days. I agreed and Alexandra thought it was a great idea--she is quite well travelled and has been to Egypt but not to anywhere else in the region.
My most useful stash of points for the purpose was in the form of avios on British Airways. I thought the whole process would be pretty easy since I did basically the same thing in reverse for myself (that is, return between Sydney and Doha, using avios) a few years ago and had no problems. The BA Executive Club website search engine will find you flights that can be booked with avios--basically any flight on a Oneworld member airline, including Qantas and Qatar Airways. Remember that if you are flying to Doha you will almost certainly be on Qatar Airways at some point, since they effectively have a local monopoly because of the "blockade".
On 22 December, I logged on to the Executive Club website and quickly found suitable flights--nothing on the direct Qatar Airways services between Sydney and Doha, but a couple of decent one-stoppers with Qantas flights to other Australian cities to connect with flights to Doha on Qatar Airways. I already knew that I didn't have enough avios for the whole booking but expected to be offered a price that included my avios plus a hopefully small cash contribution. But when I hit the "buy" link, I got told I couldn't do it on line and would have to phone a human being. This is where the fun started.
I rang the Exec Club bookings number and worked my way through the call tree and was connected with a pleasant lady named Beatrice. She did the same search as I had done and found that she couldn't book it either, and the reason apparently was that because of some unknown problem no fare was calculated for those flights. She said she would put a hold on the seats, and refer the booking to the fares team for a fare to be calculated, and I would hear back within a couple of days. I got an email from Beatrice with a booking reference in it so that was some comfort.
Two days later, nothing, so I rang them again. Still no fare calculated, so we agreed to try again in a couple of days. I started to get a trifle nervous because the booking could be held for a week only, and I didn't fancy the idea of having to start again. Next day of course was Christmas Day, and I let Beatrice have Christmas Day off.
Tried again on 26 and 28 December. Still nothing but I warned another lady (Beatrice still being on holidays) that I would be on an aeroplane on the 30th. This lady escalated the matter to the local manager.
Rang again on the morning of the 29th and got Beatrice again. She of course was very apologetic and I'm not good at yelling at people, and I don't believe it's helpful anyway. Still nothing, so I made sure that Beatrice had every possible useful phone number. Afternoon of the 29th, still nothing. So I gave up and went to bed early, since I had to get up early the next morning to be picked up at 0530 to drive to Gatwick (about 1.5 hour drive from Bicester).
I was woken about 2230 by my mobile phone. It was Beatrice. We now had a price, but there was the second wrinkle. The price quoted was avios only--there were no "avios plus cash" prices quoted. I already knew I wouldn't have enough avios, but you can buy more. Unfortunately Beatrice couldn't sell me avios over the phone, so I had to ring off, hit the website, buy the necessary number of avios, and then call her back. I did all that and then discovered the third wrinkle. The number she had called me on, which had shown on my phone screen, was an outgoing number only and wouldn't accept incoming calls. Knowing that I would have to climb the call tree again, I thought it would be better done on the landline phone, so went downstairs to get the cordless handset. I found that Christine had not, as I thought, gone to bed but was still up watching a scary movie on TV, so that in the middle of a serial-killer saga she found that there was unexpectedly a half-dressed man wandering around the house! She did look rather startled.
Anyway, having secured the cordless handset and reassured Christine, I rang Beatrice back and completed the deal, and then messaged Alexandra with the good news. By then it was well past midnight and I was too wound up to get back to sleep in a hurry. (Beatrice told me she had to work until 0100 the followingmorning.)
Beatrice and I stayed the best of mates throughout the whole process. As I said, I'm no good at yelling at people. Yelling at somebody when you are trying to get them to help you just seems stupid to me, and there's more than enough anger in the world already.
So all of that is why I intend to spend New Year's day sleeping.
>98 Bookmarque: But if it were all simple it would be boring, maybe? I forgot to mention that the number of avios I was charged was exactly the same as for the reverse journey I made a few years ago, so I wonder how much working-out actually had to be done. But Beatrice also told me that they have the same problems with any other avios booking that includes a Qatar Airways stage, so the problem evidently begins with Qatar Airways.
Anyway, after all my fun and games over the previous couple of days I am definitely not staying up to see 2019 in. So Happy New Year, everybody, and if you are celebrating please have fun and be safe.
Aaand I've just realised belatedly and shamefacedly that I've not put up a New Year greeting to my fellow Dragoneers. So best wishes to you all for 2019 and may your year be filled with light, love, good times and great reading.
May there be many good books, meals, conversations and experiences for you in 2019!
>101 pgmcc: , >102 majkia: , >103 hfglen: , >104 Bookmarque: Thanks all. Second book for the year was Borges and the Eternal Orang-Utans by Luis Fernando Verissimo. (First was a little book of essays by David Malouf, A Spirit of Play, which I’ve written about elsewhere.) But this one? A murder mystery with warring scholars, academic egos, Jorge Luis Borges, Poe, Lovecraft, Dr John Dee, the Kabbalah, the Necronomicon, a conference secretary who may have been an angel, and an extremely unreliable narrator? What on earth can I say about it other than that I loved it?
>106 reconditereader: I should, shouldn't I? But do you know, I looked and looked on BA Executive Club's "Contact us' links for one for sending praise and thanks and couldn't find one. There was one for complaints though.
ETA: But after writing that, I remembered that they have something called "golden tickets" that you can send to any staff member who provides outstanding service. So I sent Beatrice a golden ticket.
Yesterday I had coffee with a colleague from our legal department. When I called into her office she was delighted to be interrupted. She was on page 79 of a 180 page contract and was bogged down in reading definitions.
>108 pgmcc: Bless you, you made me laugh. The wisest thing I ever heard said about definitions was by a very senior Australian Parliamentary Counsel, who was on the agenda to speak about definitions at a conference. He opened by saying "Definitions. There's too many of the buggers.". I suspect your colleague might echo that sentiment. Slightly more seriously, one of the ways you can recognise a draft done by someone not skilled in the art is that everything gets defined, and definitions are made to do work that they shouldn't.
I was yet again browsing old threads and came across this one: https://www.librarything.com/topic/183592. Using the tool linked to there and the tale of woe in post #98 as a sample, I discovered that I apparently write like Arthur C. Clarke. Who definitely didn't write like a judge.
I've been reading, or trying to read, The Stainless Steel Rat Omnibus, which was a Christmas present that I deliberately put on my Amazon wishlist. Like This Book Is Full of Spiders, I found it on a list of humorous SFF titles.Whoever compiled that list definitely doesn't share my sense of humour. This Book Is Full of Spiders jump-cuts a bit too fast between stuff that might pass as funny and stuff that is pure horror, and even the funny stuff has a pervasive air of unease about it. My problem with the Stainless Steel Rat is that it simply isn't very funny, and isn't much of anything else either. The books are first-person narration, Slippery Jim is definitely not a person I like, and I don't much like being in his head. Slippery Jim is a kind of cross between Till Eulenspiegel and Robin Hood (except that since in his time there are no poor people, he robs the rich and keeps it). He seems to have it much too easy in his career of theft and miscellaneous villainy--although, since I stopped halfway through The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge, he might be about to get another comeuppance.
I might finish it, but the odds are somewhat against.
ETA I've now read reading-fox's review, which I agree with completely, and was better expressed.
>111 haydninvienna: :-D Remembering nothing else other than that I vaguely wasn't impressed, I've gone back to read what I thought 9 years ago. It's at least given me the opportunity to correct a few of the worst typos.
Happy New Year!
>112 reading_fox: Happy new year to you too. You put my vaguely expressed feelings into words pretty accurately, I thought. My only reservation is that you said "As a change from the Golden Era of SF that was being written at the time this was perhaps a dramatic shift. But it's much closer to being a B movie than an increase in literary quality". My reservation is that I doubt that it was ever anything other than a bad B-movie script. The Stainless Steel Rat was first published in 1961. It probably was groundbreaking at the time, in comparison with the current magazine SF, but groundbreaking isn't the same as good. Or, putting it another way, groundbreaking rubbish is still rubbish.
As noted in other threads, I was in Dublin this weekend. Advised by master-enabler pgmcc, I bought this lot:
The Orchid Trilogy by Jocelyn Brooke, Remembering Babylon and The Conversations at Curlew Creek (both by David Malouf), Dark Matter by Michelle Paver and Breakfast with Anglo by Simon Kelly all came from Chapters on Parnell Street, a huge store that sells both new and used books, in which I could spend days (probably days of mounting frustration--so many books! so little time! so little money!). I bought the Brooke because I read it many years ago and was reminded of it by someone reviewing another book by Brooke, The Image of a Drawn Sword, which I looked for but didn't find. Dark Matter was a BB from someone on LT, partly because I'm interested in Svalbard, which is its setting. Peter says it's good. Breakfast with Anglo is about the collapse of the Irish property boom and consequently the Irish banking system in 2008. I have a personal interest because I was working on certain aspects of the "support" given to the banks after the collapse. I don't expect to learn anything new, but for €3, why not?
The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington (another BB), The Rituals of Dinner by Margaret Visser and The Law-Making process by Michael Zander came from Books Upstairs, which runs a bit more to the quirky and unusual. I'm reading The Rituals of Dinner at the moment--it's fascinating.
Then (after a quick detour to Sweny's Pharmacy to buy some of Mr Bloom's favourite soap), I hit the mothership, Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street, which claims to be the oldest bookshop in Europe. This yielded The Plague by Albert Camus, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, and The Rings of Saturn by W G Sebald--been wanting to try Sebald for a while. The Moonstone because I'd been reading The Woman in White on the flight out, and if you skip judiciously it's great. And The Plague because Camus.
Then met Peter and repaired to the pub for a pint or two, as you may have seen.
Finally to the National Concert Hall for Haydn, Beethoven and Mendelssohn.
>115 suitable1: You need to have something to read during intermission, don't you?
>114 haydninvienna: The extensive haul pictured suggests that you spent your day in Dublin quite constructively. And I admit that I looked up The Rituals of Dinner to learn more about it and I'll look forward to reading your review.
>115 suitable1: >116 jillmwo: I must admit the cloakroom attendant looked a little startled at the fistful of shopping bags. I’m not sure I’m going to do much of a review of The Rituals of Dinner, but one comment so far is that it’s a bit of a collection of snippets rather than an exhaustive examination of the topic. That’s probably unavoidable with such a huge subject (worldwide, all times and cultures including the cannibal ones), and it’s still fascinating.
>114 haydninvienna: Golly. Shopping with one of our most notorious enforcers, and that's all you came away with? ;)
Glad you had such a nice trip.
>119 MrsLee: he was at first only advising by text message. When we finally met in Hodges Figgis, we had an even more important objective, namely getting to the pub. And of course I had to get the haul on an aeroplane with only a carry-on size bag.
>120 europhile: yes it was! Haydn never came to Dublin, unfortunately. Funny thing is, when I joined LT, I was still living in England where he certainly did go, so HaydninLondon would have been possible. But he was brought up in Vienna and spent large parts of his life there.
>111 haydninvienna: Hi there. Having read your thoughts on The Stainless Steel Rat Omnibus, I thought I would mention my own experiences with Slippery Jim:
I started somewhere random in the middle of the series (courtesy of raiding the bookshelves of a SO), and only later went back to the beginning. The responsibilities of becoming a family man turn deGriz into a more rounded character. He is still usually smugly one step ahead of the world in general, but his boss is usually at least five steps ahead of him. Does being blackmailed into becoming a special agent for law enforcement count as come-uppance enough for you?
I wouldn't say the books ever elevate themselves beyond the level of amiable popcorn, but the more unpleasant aspects of the protagonist's original portrayal become less grating.
I suppose when inventing a new sub-genre, an author may take a little time to find their way.
>124 -pilgrim-: I think you're probably right, and that "amiable popcorn" is a fair assessment. I still think he has it a sight too easy though, Even James Bond had a tougher life.
>125 haydninvienna: On the whole, I have to agree with you (although I vaguely remember him being tortured for an extended period as a slave labourer in an artificial hell)..
I suspect that my tolerance is higher than yours because he compares favourably to the genuinely nasty personalities of some if the "antiheroes" in more modern books in the genre.
>127 Busifer: I’ve been looking to get into Camus for a while, after an unsuccessful attempt a couple of years ago. I’ve read some of his essays.
>126 -pilgrim-: I think that’s fair. I did dislike his air of superiority. I generally don’t do antiheroes.
>128 haydninvienna: There seems to be a shortage of heroes these days. I prefer my heroes flawed and realistic, rather thsn shiny-perfect and impervious, but the whole "grimdark" thing seems to have generated a lot of protagonists in modern fantasy/SF that it is hard to feel any support for at all.
>131 -pilgrim-: Agreed, but "flawed and realistic" is still a long way from "antihero". I really have little use for grimdark.
On another note, I'm down to attend a conference in Livingstone, Zambia at the beginning of April. Normally the office would fund me for this, but because of some shenanigans going on here, I may have to do it on my own tab. BUT: I just got an email from the conference organiser that there is a boat ride from which I can get to see hippopotamuses/hippopotami/whatever! How can I possibly pass that up!
>132 haydninvienna: I tend to agree with you about grimdark.
My current light reading, Smoke and Summons, exemplifies the change in attitudes that I am referring to. Slippery Jim is a career criminal, yet he puts in quite a bit of extra effort to ensure that no innocents are harmed by his activities, whereas the "heroine" of S&S is currently stealing from a stranger who has gratuitously helped her, on the grounds that she is desperate and thinks his item might be useful to her, without the slightest thought about what the consequences of his loss might be for her benefactor.
Also...ooh...hippopotamoi! *tongue firmly in cheek*
I hope photos here will be forthcoming.
>132 haydninvienna: Enjoy the conference! What a pity you're not extending your journey (admittedly by a couple of thousand km) southwards -- a GD meetup would be great!
PS: Happy hippos! One word to the wise though: you do know, don't you, that they are Africa's greatest killer animal after the malaria mosquito.
>133 -pilgrim-: All-knowing Wikipedia allows "hippopotamuses" and "hippopotami" but not "hippopotamoi". I suspect that the last might be correct if we treated the word as Greek, but hey! >134 hfglen: I'll see what I can do. And yes, I actually did know that. I have no intention of becoming intimately acquainted with a hippo nor allowing one to be come intimately acquainted with me, I assure you. Nor mosquitoes either, actually.
Well "HippopotaMOI" is awkward because the element tht
one wawnts to pluralize is "hippo-, not '"potamo-"": the word
"HORSE:RIVER", so "horse" is what one is trying to
pluralize. But using a Latin instead of a Greek ending
isn't any improvement; considering the two elements
as composing just a single word, the -oi ending (Greek)
is more logical than the Latin.
>136 rolandperkins: I know, I know, but I did what I could. My Greek master left me with a lasting aversion to the addition of Latin to Greek forms, and hippopotamuses is simply too ugly to be correct! *grin*
>136 rolandperkins:, >137 -pilgrim-: My Latin and Greek are even (respectively) smaller and less than Shakespeare's, but I do have a second edition Fowler and I'm not afraid to use it. The second edition of Modern English Usage firmly says ""Pl. -muses better than-mi". The first edition, which I can search only on Google Books at the moment (my own dead-tree copy of the first edition being 3,000 miles away), says the same, and in the article on "Latin Plurals" (which begins "or latinized-Greek", and does not deal specifically with hippopotamus), says that "Most Latin plurals in -us have plurals in -i but not all, & so zeal not according to knowledge issues in such oddities as hiati, octopi, omnibi, & ignorami; ...".
Fowler comes in for a lot of stick now from people who have never really read him, but I've had my copy of the second edition since 1973 and I used to be able to recite bits of it by heart. He was certainly not a stickler for being "correct", as some people think of him now.
None of the other style manuals on my desk deal with pluralising hippopotamus, but the Shorter Oxford Dictionary prefers -muses to -mi. Oxford On Line doesn't give a plural, but the example sentences have 4 instances of -muses and only 2 of -mi (if I've counted correctly). Oxford On Line also notes that the derivation is by way of Latin, justifying the reference in Fowler.
So there. If necessary I could always say "Oh, there's a hippopotamus! And another one!".
Or I could just sool the roombas onto the whole issue.
>136 rolandperkins: >137 -pilgrim-: At the risk of being tedious: thank you both, for you led me to discover this:
But Fowler was not one of those [sticklers for usage]. For all his classicist rigor, he was a tolerant man who realized that “tilting against established perversions . . . is vanity in more than one sense.” His ideal was a democratic one, a natural, unaffected and humbug-free English summed up in the word “idiom.” And if idiom and grammar are in conflict, so much the worse for grammar. Thus he was cheerfully lax about “who & whom” and the placement of “only,” and he mocked the pains people go through to avoid ending their sentences with prepositions. When it came to the notorious split infinitive (e.g., “to boldly go where no man . . .”), he observed that those English speakers who neither know nor care about them “are to be envied” by the unhappy few who do.
(from the New York Times, 10 December 2009, in a review by Jim Holt of a reissue of the first edition of Modern English Usage with an introduction by David Crystal. And with a memorable footnote at the end:
Jim Holt is the author of “Stop Me if You’ve Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes.” He is writing a book about the puzzle of existence.
I may have to put Mr Holt's works on my wish list. And the reissued first edition.
>138 haydninvienna: or quote the late great Michael Flanders and start singing about "a regular army / of hippopotami"
>140 hfglen: I just gnu you would say that.
ETA I just ordered the reissued first edition of Modern English Usage, basically for the introduction.
EATA: We've just had an email about a new starter in our Enforcement division, with the interesting qualification of "Master of Fraud and Financial Crime".
For anyone who has no idea what Hugh was talking about: https://www.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DAjnOj9O16_I&usg=AOvVaw2-RKx6KOgNJW1XWy....
There is a sequel from their next show; unfortunately only the words seem to be available on the internet. So all I can suggest to@-pilgrim- is that you click on the link and sing it yourself.
>151 hfglen: Duly performed, unfortunately - or possibly fortunately - solo.
Actually these lyrics were also provided in the comments section to the YouTube video. Along with the information, new to me, that Donald Swann's parents were Russian emigrés.
Back in Bicester again this weekend and the following were waiting for me:
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (a gorgeous Folio Society reproduction of the first edition, with Kipling’s own illustrations—and I blame hfglen for this entirely)
Beyond the Blue Horizon by Alexander Frater (another notch on hfglen’s keyboard)
Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog by Kitty Burns Florey (a BB from someone here, I’ve forgotten who)
A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by H W Fowler (a reprint of the first edition, with an introduction by David Crystal—blame -pilgrim- for this, after the exchange above about the plural of the name of a certain aquatic ungulate)
The Warden of English by Jenny McMorris (blaming -pilgrim-again)
Tragedy at Law by Cyril Hare (a deliberate BB by pgmcc).
Jill is correct. I think I get most of my murder advice from Jill. It was a BB from Jill that taught me about the poison from ivy.
Of course, when I passed on the recommendation for Tragedy at Law, it was at a face-to-face meet-up. We were enjoying a convivial coversation over pints of Guinness.
>155 jillmwo: It's about 9.75 by 6.25, smaller than the "real" first edition, but all the text and illustrations seem to be there. The cover looks like this, which is the real first edition (because I'm too tired tonight to get an iPhone photo of mine to look right), but the FS one doesn't have Kipling's name on the cover:
According to the front matter, the text is that of the first edition "with minor emendations", and the illustrations have been re-reproduced from Kipling's originals. (I looked at some of the obvious places for the "emendations, but the Ethiopian in "How the Leopard got his Spots" still says "Oh, plain black's best for a n****r", so not done for the purpose of bringing the language up to 21-st century ideas of correctness.) I have, as I mentioned before, a somewhat battered copy of the "real" first edition somewhere, if I can find it. It might be worth while having it re-bound.
>156 pgmcc: Peter, if you're getting your murder advice from Jill. is she a covert operative as well?
I'd do a scan of the Kipling cover tomorrow at work, but at present I'm going to have what we Australians call a sickie. I had a small accident this morning, which was certainly not life-threatening but annoyed me very much.
You need to know first that last (I think) Tuesday my wife told me that the first floor (that is, the one above ground level) of the house had flooded. She called our mate George the Polish plumber (everybody knows a Polish plumber) and he discovered that some time in the past, for unknown reasons, the overflow from the toilet cistern on the second floor had been blocked off. Consequently the cistern had apparently become overfull and had overflowed all over the place. I have a faint and not guaranteed recollection of being told this some time back—at least that there was a problem with that cistern. He fixed it the way it was supposed to be. As a result of the flooding most of the lights on the first floor don’t work—evidently there’s a short or something somewhere. We’ve contacted an electrician but he can’t get there till about Tuesday so we rested with that rather than paying an emergency call-out fee, since all the other lights work and the situation seemed to be manageable.
However. This morning at about 0445 I’m carrying bags down the stairs in the dark (stairwell lights are out) and I missed a step, fortunately only a couple from the bottom, and now I have a very painful right ankle. It still works, sort of, but isn’t happy about it. Add to that, that last night I got a cramp in the other leg that was bad enough that I think I’ve pulled the calf muscle, and I hurt. Fortunately the flight back here was very tranquil. But I'm not very mobile so I think I'll pull a sickie and have a DNBR.
One of my concerns about the first floor being flooded was that that's the one where most of the books are. None of them are on the floor except for some thrillers that we are in the process of giving away anyway, but still I was concerned. Relax, that room seems to have escaped and the books are fine.
On the flight back I read The Warden of English--what a thoroughly delightful man Henry Fowler seems to have been, and how much of his personality comes off the pages of the first and even second editions of Modern English Usage-- and am about halfway through Beyond the Blue Horizon. The version I read of this years ago was certainly an abridged version: I feel sure that if it had contained the story about the entertainment in the bar he went to in Bangkok I would remember it, and I don't.
>153 haydninvienna: Watching the lawyer in action is truly an education. I note how smoothly you deposit the responsibility for your actions at other doors.
On the other hand, it is nice to see my stealth shots appreciated.
*swirls cloak and disappears back into the shadows"
>157 haydninvienna:, >159 suitable1:, >160 pgmcc:
The pilgrim is slightly disconcerted to learn of persons more enigmatic than herself in this hostelry, and is beginning to wonder what sort of den of iniquity she has wandered into.
The Pub is full of interesting people; some are more interesting than others.
>161 -pilgrim-: crikey, there’s at least 1 lawyer in here. How much more iniquity do you need?
>155 jillmwo: I ought to have mentioned that the FS edition has a story in it that’s not in the first edition. According to a publisher’s note, this story is in the manuscript that Kipling had bound, and it is unknown why it was not published with the others.
My DNBR today has so far let me finish Beyond the Blue Horizon, read Just So Stories and finish The Hearing Trumpet.
Beyond the Blue Horizon by Alexander Frater is about a journey to retrace that taken by Imperial Airways passengers between England and Australia in the mid to late 1930s. Some of what were airfields then have disappeared, so it was no longer possible to retrace the journey exactly, but Frater did his best, bearing what was supposed to be the largest ticket ever issued on British Airways coupons. Oddly, the journey he took in 1985 or thereabouts is now something of a historical curiosity itself, with frequent references to the need to reconfirm bookings and unlimited booze even in economy class. Making the booking of course would not even be possible now—his ticket had 54 sectors on it. Modern e-tickets are limited to 16 sectors. I’ll say this for Frater—travelling from England to Australia his way must have demanded an iron constitution, even without allowing for the dose of Calcutta Two-step he caught from a dubious chicken curry.
I thought that Beyond the Blue Horizon was a pretty decent read, and I'm not aware of any other similar attempts to retrace a historic air route. But there were a few minor annoyances. First, no dates! He left Heathrow outward bound in February; we are not told the exact date nor even what year. I'm guessing 1984 or 1985, since the book was published in 1986. On the way out of Australia he says he spent "several weeks" getting into and out of small aeroplanes, but even though the exact date and time of his return were important to him (after scheduled landing time at Heathrow he had five hours to get to St Paul's Cathedral for his son's confirmation--he made it, just) no dates and times for the flight stages are given. There is a bit too much geekiness and gee-whiz for this aviation geek--"four giant RB-211 turbojets" of the 747 that he returned on. I don't need this sort of stuff and it should have been "turbofans" anyway. And oddly, most annoying of all--there is a small town in central Queensland called Blackall. His TAA flight called there between Brisbane and Longreach, both of which were on the Imperial Airways service. Spelling it "Blackhall" (three times!) makes it look like someone hasn't done their research properly, the more so because it is spelled correctly on the maps in the book. And TAA is now gone as well, of course--it became "Australian Airlines" in the year the book was published, and was taken over by Qantas in 1992.
Just So Stories is a collection of children’s stories written by Rudyard Kipling for his daughter. If you know it already, you probably love it. If you don’t, get hold of a copy and read it. It may change your view of Kipling.
The Hearing Trumpet is next to indescribable. My copy of The Thirteen and a Half Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers describes it as being like J K Rowling on acid. That description works for The Hearing Trumpet, especially given the strong possibility that recreational controlled substances were involved.
Your description of Beyond the Blue Horizon is fascinating. I would not be inclined to read a whole book on the adventure but would read an article. I share your chagrin at his not including the flight details. That would have added so much, especially if it could have been compared directly with the original journey. That sounds like a missed opportunity to provide nerds across the world with hours if entertainment and argument.
>158 haydninvienna: Sorry to hear about your mishap, and hope the pains will be on their way soon. Enjoy the reading day though. :)
>168 MrsLee: Thanks. It’s an inconvenience more than anything, but last night when I got off the flight from London I begged a ride back to the immigration desk from one of the guys with the electric carts, something I have never done before.
The DNBR continues. And here I must give tribute and thanks to pgmcc and jillmwo who recommended Tragedy at Law. It turned out to be an absolutely brilliant whodunnit, with a snapper of an ending that seriously drew from me a small gasp of admiration. Full of all-too-recognisable legal types too. I might well see about getting some more of Cyril Hare’s output.
>155 jillmwo:, >157 haydninvienna: I have a copy of a folio Just So Stories, but it has a different cover than that above, featuring a tan-yellow colour fabric and the picture of The Cat that Walked by Himself. tardis has our family copy of the original, which has the same cover as above. I'm not sure if the older copy contains the last story (The Tabu Tale).
>167 pgmcc: Just to prove my nerd credentials, I made a spreadsheet of the distances of Frater's flight stages. If I've correctly interpreted the backtrackings because of airline schedules, and including the flight home, it comes to 29,405 miles. Longest outward stage was Denpasar to Darwin, 1,099 miles on the great circle. The flight in 1936 would have gone from Lombok to Kupang to Darwin but at the time of Frater's journey the Indonesians were suppressing a rebellion in East Timor and Kupang was a military area. Kupang to Darwin (514 miles) would have been flown in one hop because there is nothing but ocean in between. Longest return stage by BA 747 was Sydney to Singapore: 3,907 miles. There you have 50 years of aviation progress in a nutshell.
>170 NorthernStar: The Folio edition was first published in 1991 and the present one is apparently a new issue of the same text. I'm guessing that your FS version has the Tabu Tale in it, but I take it that non-Folio versions do not.
Out of curiosity ('satiable curtiosity?) I looked at the Project Gutenberg text as well. That text was taken from a version issued by Doubleday, Doran in 1912. It has Kipling's own illustrations and also coloured ones by Joseph M Gleeson, but it does not have the Tabu Tale.
>171 haydninvienna: I think your nerd credentials are well established.
You remind me of a friend who stood watching a verticle loop in a rollercoaster working out the “g” forces acting on the passengers at the top of the loop before deciding to get on the ride.
>174 Sakerfalcon: Bonkers is right. It has the peculiar internal logic of a dream. Stilton cheese is supposed to be good (if that’s the right word) for vivid dreams. Maybe someone was feeding Ms Carrington a steady diet of Stilton?
>177 haydninvienna: I am envious! I have a certain fondness for Kipling, even as I acknowledge that he suffers from the flaws of his general time period. Is the Tabu Tale you reference (which I have not read) worth the price of the book?
>178 jillmwo: Probably not on its own unless you're a Kipling completist (a "Kipling tragic", as we might once have said in Oz). But it's a nice little addition. I found that the story I liked the best, on this reading, wasn't any of the familiar early ones like the Elephant's Child (with its frequent mentions of the great grey-green greasy Limpopo, which is kind of why we are talking about this book at all) but "The Butterfly that Stamped", even though it's even more of its time than the rest.
Edited to fix the grammar!
I always feel Kipling is an unfairly underrated author. Usually the condemnations seem to come from those who have read little or none of his work, and take the voice of his characters for his own. Some of his Plain Tales from the Hills are some of the most powerful indictments of the pernicious effects of even well-intentioned colonialist attitudes that I have ever read. Such outspokenness from a prospective Poet Laureate was truly remarkable.
Just So Stories was a childhood favourite of mine, and I still enjoy it. It is delightful to read aloud, and I love Kipling's illustrations. My favourites are the Taffy stories, the Elephant's Child, and the Armadillo.
I don’t know whether there are still any Dragoneers in Canberra, but if there are, would any of them (or lurkers) be interested in a meetup in Canberra some time between 7 and 13 April (my other commitments permitting)?
A bit of professional reading: as I mentioned, I write rules for a financial regulator. I have recently drafted a set of rules about customer and investor protection. You may (but probably don't) know that in Australia, there has been a Royal Commission (a very formal public inquiry, with powers to subpoena witnesses and so on) into misconduct in the financial sector. The Commissioner, Sir Kenneth Hayne, is a retired Judge of the High Court of Australia. He gave his final report a few days ago. The report is directly relevant to what I am doing, and one of our board members is a former chairman of the Australian financial regulator and will certainly read the report closely. I am properly paid for my rude remarks above about judges' writing. Here is Commissioner Hayne:
Rewarding misconduct is wrong. Yet incentive, bonus and commission schemes throughout the financial services industry have measured sales and profit, but not compliance with the law and proper standards. Incentives have been offered, and rewards have been paid, regardless of whether the sale was made, or profit derived, in accordance with law. Rewards have been paid regardless of whether the person rewarded should have done what they did.
Does the report go on to propose a remuneration scheme that does not reward illicit behaviuor, or, better still, rewards good behaviour?
Oops! Sorry. For a moment there I forgot we were talking about the banking sector.
It does, actually--the first one, at least. There's quite a bit in there about not rewarding unlawful behaviour. Another quote that I liked (Hayne, as Commissioner, was examining the chief exec of the National Australia Bank about what became known as the "fee for no service" issue, where financial advisers were charging ongoing fees for services that were poorly defined and often were never provided):
... This explanation was advanced by Mr Andrew Thorburn, CEO of NAB. He sought to portray the charging of fees for no service as a product of poor systems and carelessness. It was, in his words, ‘just professional negligence’. And Mr Byres said, in his statement, that ‘in many cases the fees for no service issue was in large part a product of poor IT infrastructure … [and] legacy system issues’.
I’ve been a bit quiet for a while, what with RL getting in the way, and in particular with wife and stepdaughter visiting. Both are now back home and I’m trying to break a brief reading funk with Last Tango in Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce. I vaguely reading one of this series a few years ago.
There are several books in the series. I’m not sure how to describe them. Since the world that they are set in is that of now but not here, I suppose they are fantasy, but in the form of a parody of a noir private eye novel. I’m not yet sure whether I get the joke or not.
>186 haydninvienna: I really should get around to picking up the last book in that series and finally finish it off. It fits in well with my sense of humour.
>187 AHS-Wolfy: Well, I finished it. It was a quick read, and I’m still not sure I got the joke. But I’m not sorry to have read it. That’s something.
Another quick read completed: On the Future: Prospects for Humanity by Martin Rees. This was one of the haul from Bicester. I don't know that Rees has anything particularly new or original to say, but it is probably still worth while for him, as a senior academic and scientist and a member of the House of Lords, to say it. At least he believes we do have a future, given a reasonable measure of wisdom. Anyway, I bought it (special order from an indie bookshop too!) and read it and will keep it on my Yes We Do Have A Future shelf, alongside Stephen Pinker's The Better Angels of our Nature.
Which reminds me that Abraham Lincoln's birthday was a week ago. I took a BB from TooBusyReading and Sandydog1 for The Soul of America by Jon Meacham, and then noticed that clamairy had praised the audio version in her thread back in January. So Clam, you get a belated share in the BB.
Another one of the haul from Bicester: Spitfire: a Very British Love Story.
I wish I could say I loved this book, but I didn't. I adore the aeroplane* itself, and have seen and heard them flying at Duxford, where the Imperial War Museum keeps its aviation collection, and at Temora in Australia***. If an aeroplane ever became iconic in the original sense of that over-used word, the Spitfire did. But I'm sure that there have been better homages to the Spitfire**. This one is largely made up of a great number of personal stories of surviving people who flew Spitfires. Most of the stories are stories of air combat, or the preliminaries to or the consequences of air combat, many told in the teller's own words. Fair enough to quote them directly. But too often the linking text reads like it was written for the Daily Mail. There are minor editing niggles like referring to "bullets" being loaded into machine-guns. Nope, sorry. And I'm sure I saw a place where the text uses "millimetres" as if it were a unit of time, but didn't note it at while reading and couldn't find it later. One way and another, I feel rather let down by this book. All the Amazon press reviews are frothing at the mouth with enthusiasm, so I'm pleased to note that the 1 review on LT wasn't enormously enthusiastic either, although FalkeEins hasn't quite the same list of grizzles as I do. I mostly agree with that review, except that I do not agree that the book was well written!
I grew up on Reach for the Sky, The Big Show and Fly for Your Life. All of them were better written, at least as I remember them. No doubt if I read them today I would find that the Suck Fairy had been around. But Paul Brickhill at least knew a thing or two: The Dam Busters stands up pretty well, despite some minor errors now mostly recognisable as being due to the fact that when it was written, much of the story was still covered by official secrecy.
Give some credit where credit is due: there are a number of accounts of women who flew Spitfires for the Air Transport Auxiliary. And one fact that I didn't know: the ATA women pilots were the first women ever in Great Britain to be paid equally with men for the same work.
* Quoting (from memory) an un-named Cranwell instructor in Reach for the Sky: "Never call it a plane or a kite. The word is aeroplane or aircraft". See, I remember bits of this book 60-odd years after I first read it, and I probably haven't seen a copy for 40 of those years. It obviously made a big impression on pre-adolescent me.
** Memo to self: see if I can get hold of a copy of Jeffrey Quill's book. What do we call a self-inflicted BB?
***ETA: and would give, say, half of what years I have left to get a ride in one.
>190 haydninvienna: After reading that, can you explain why it is the Spitfire that holds preeminent place for so many people? My father (who served) was always quite scathing about the trend, and reserved all his love for the Mosquito.
>191 -pilgrim-: No, not entirely. As I said, I've seen and heard them flying. I've also seen Mustangs flying (even helped push one into a hangar once--didn't wash my hands for a week). Of course we are talking here mainly about British people--aviation nerds of other nationalities can and often do have different views*. But there is independent evidence that pilots who flew both the Spitfire and the Hurricane preferred the Spitfire. I remember even now, from Fly for Your Life, Bob Tuck's dismay, after flying Spitfires on operations, being posted as CO to a Hurricane squadron. I also remember that at Temora (a small town in New South Wales where there is or was a major aviation museum) when a Spitfire was flown in company with a Mustang the pilots commented how much nicer the Spitfire was to fly.
There's a matter of aesthetics too. Whatever else can be said for or against the Spitfire, they are beautiful. The Hurricane was its competitor, and at the start of the Battle of Britain there were more Hurricanes than Spitfires, but the Hurricane is not a handsome aircraft. Jonathan Glancey, who writes on design for British newspapers and the BBC, has an article here saying much the same stuff at greater length (and more literately than John Nichol does). I think his comment about the Merlin in the first paragraph of the linked article is at least open to dispute but that's another story. Glancey also has a book, but the Amazon reviews lead me to think that Jeffery Quill's books might be a better bet.
And noting your father's opinion, a comparison between the Spitfire and the Mosquito isn't entirely fair to either. Different aircraft designed for different tasks. The Mosquito was originally designed as a fast bomber, but became a number of other things during its service career. Having said which, I think the Mosquito was an amazing aeroplane too (and also beautiful). I can remember reading only one thing adverse to the Mosquito--that it took an eternity to go round a loop.
*As to different views: there was an Italian fighter, the Macchi MC205. The Italians could never get enough engines to build them at a sufficient rate. But there is the story of an American test pilot, walking away from a captured one after flying it, saying "Gee, that's a honey of an airplane.".
>192 haydninvienna: Thank you. That, particularly the link, was a good answer to my question. (I agree, I have never heard any fond eulogies for the Hurricane.)
But the adulation for fighters over bombers, reconnaissance and other military aircraft is a whole other hornet's nest...
Funny things happen here. After the discussion about the Spitfire I got to thinking about the Merlin engine, and how much of its success was due to some remarkable design work on its superchargers. When the Fw190 appeared, the Spitfire mark V was no longer competitive with it, and only a new Merlin engine with a two-stage supercharger kept the Spitfire in the fight. Now we are deeeeeep in nerd territory. I knew from Leonard Setright's book The Power to Fly that the supercharger design had been worked on by an engineer named Stanley Hooker, about whom I knew nothing. Off to Wikipedia, to discover that at least one person with claims to know has compared Hooker favourably with Brunel as a great British engineer. Off to Amazon to see if his autobiography is available, and it is: Not Much of an Engineer byStanley Hooker. Another self-inflicted BB.
>195 -pilgrim-: I'm not expecting great literature.
Just to show that I still have the GD spirit, I've just finished A Night in the Lonesome October. I don't do ratings or reviews but if I did I'd probably give this one at least 4 stars. Great fun. Homages to a lot of literature, some obvious and some not. For example, who (except possibly for lyzard) now knows who Martin Farquhar Tupper (mentioned on p 172 as lying on top of Elizabeth Barrett Browning) was? I do cos I encountered him as a character in a one-act play that I was made to read in my second year of high school.
>196 haydninvienna: I confess to an abysmal gap in my education. Who is Martin Farquhar Tupper? And what play were you forced to read?
>197 jillmwo: I have no idea what the play was, but I seem to recall that the same book had one of J M Synge's short plays in it, so it can't have been all rubbish.
I remember Tupper as a character as a smug, self-satisfied ass. I have no idea what he was like IRL, but if the quotations in his Wikipedia article are a fair sample he wrote like a pompous ass as well. The book that figures in the play is Proverbial Philosophy--yes, there are copies on LT, mostly in legacy libraries. He seems to have been enormously popular in mid-Victorian England and the USA--according to Wikipedia, which took its information from the Dictionary of National Biography, Proverbial Philosophy went through 40 large editions in the UK and sold nearly a million in the USA. It's a huge compilation of moral platitudes, in jog-trot blank verse.
This is the "Prefatory" (copied from the text on Project Gutenberg):
There's 362 pages of it. I suspect that copies were often given to godchildren for their moral education. I tried to read some of it. It's kind of interesting how the huge flood of words hides whatever actual thought there may be, so that even though there's nothing complex in either the thought or the verse, you get lost in the verbiage.
And on a completely different topic: for anyone who doesn't already know, SF Masterworks is republishing R A Lafferty. I've just pre-ordered a copy of The Best Of ..., which is said to be "the authoritative collection of short fiction by R A Lafferty".
>196 haydninvienna: A Night in the Lonesome October is one of my favourite Zelazny's. I read it when it first came out and deeply regret giving my copy away (as an attempt to convert a friend to this strange author that I was enthusing about). Since I don't often read horror, I have the nagging feeling that I missed some of the references. Does Crazy Jill come from anywhere in particular, for example?
And I still remember the line about the "religious distress symbol"!
>200 -pilgrim-: I’m not a horror reader either so many references may have escaped me too. I got references (many of them) to Lovecraft, and there are others to the Sherlock Holmes canon, to Dracula, and to Dr Frankenstein and his monster. But there are probably others that I missed. Specifically, I don’t recognise Crazy Jill beyond a vague feeling that I ought to.
I’ve not read much of Zelazny. I remember “The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth”, and the short story that became The Dream Master, but little else.
>201 haydninvienna: So you are left with the same nagging feeling about Crazy Jill as I have!
My first introduction to him was the Chronicles of Amber series, which I reread last year with great pleasure. I then read Dilvish the Damned, which is a little more old-fashioned, but very innovative for its time. Since then I try a new Zelazny every so often. I don't read him more consistently because then I might run out!
One of the things I like most about him is that he refuses to stick one style; despite the number of books that he has written, you never get that sense of the author churning out "another one".
I would particularly recommend his Lord of Light to you - SF about multigenerational space travel that ends up in the realms of debating political and religious systems (and how to develop them).
>200 -pilgrim-: >201 haydninvienna: >202 -pilgrim-:
I am one of those creatures that re-reads A Night in the Lonesome October each tenth-month, consuming a chapter per evening until the remaining Openers and Closers converge at Dog's Nest on All Hallows Eve. If you don't mind a passel of spoilers: Fallen Books and Other Subtle Clues in Zelazny’s “A Night in the Lonesome October”, by Dr. Christopher S. Kovacs.
Lord of Light is a solid recommendation. Love that book. Some well-targeted google-fu will also locate you an online version of 24 Views of Mt. Fuji by Hokusai, which is one of my all-time favorite novellas. The story also appears in later versions of The Last Defender of Camelot, and in the collection Frost & Fire. However, the online version has illustrations which are missing from most print editions and they do add dimensionality, which makes reading online worth the extra hassle, IMHO. I am also a sucker for first-person narration and Zelazny had a very distinct way with the form that particularly appeals.
>203 ScoLgo: Thanks for that link. I note that Dr Kovacs doesn't have a definite identification for Crazy Jill either, but his conjecture looks plausible. Despite my bragging about knowing who Tupper was, I would never in a million years have made the connection with Virginia Woolf (Woolf--hmm) even though "Snuff" and "Flush" are sort of similar phonetically and I knew about both the dog and the book.
A small point that I don't recall seeing in the Kovacs article is that the meetings are often referred to as the Game or the Great Game. I bet this is a reference to the competition between the British and the Russians on the North-West Frontier (India and Afghanistan) late in the 19th century, referred to then as the Great Game.
I have Woolf's Complete Shorter Fiction on the nightstand at the moment, and must read a bit more of it. Also, get a copy of Flush. And more Zelazny. I think my wishlist just exploded.
>204 haydninvienna: I agree with you completely about the Great Game. I made that assumption automatically (the 19th century version being a particular interest of mine).
>203 ScoLgo: Thank you, thank you, thank you for that link.. And for the recommendation.
And drat you both - I am now in need of another dose of Zelazny...
>205 -pilgrim-: Sorrynotsorry.
And guess what just arrived in the mail: a couple of tiny postcard books from Atlantis Books on the Greek island of Santorini. I'm going there (inshallah) in mid-March. The island is an arc around a volcanic caldera that is imagined to be the site of the eruption that destroyed the Minoan civilisation on Crete and gave birth to the legend of Atlantis. I'll try to post some scans of the covers tonight, but the ones I just uploaded from work look crappy on preview although they're fine in my member gallery.
I note that there is a dormant group called Bookstore Tourism. I'd like to see it revived but don't fancy taking it on myself.
And what have I been doing over this past weekend? I've been back in England, that's what.
When I got to Bicester I found the following lovelies waiting for me:
Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis
What Jane Austen Ate and What Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool
The Railways by Simon Bradley
The Second Man by Edward Grierson
Traveller of the Century by Andrés Neuman
In Matto's Realm by Friedrich Glauser
Imprimatur by Monaldi & Sorti
Mozart's Journey to Prague and a selection of Poems by Eduard Mörike
Something of his Art by Horatio Clare
Logicomix by Doxiadis
The Soul of America by Jon Meacham
Empty Planet by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson
Not Much of an Engineer by Stanley Hooker
The Capital by Robert Menasse.
Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture I read some while back from the Canberra library and now I have my own copy. Logicomix is my first ever graphic novel.
What Jane Austen Ate ... gets regularly recommended on LT. The Railways got a thumbs-up from hfglen. The Second Man was a recommendation from NinieB--a crime novel with an interesting piece of court business (well, interesting to lawyers, anyway). The next 4 were all discussed enthusiastically by various other LTers. The Soul of America was yet another LT recommendation by, among others, our very own Clam.
Not Much of an Engineer, as noted above, was something I came upon during the course of the discussion about the Spitfire.
Empty Planet and The Capital must be added to the growing number of books I bought because of a review in The Economist. (Some really great reviews in both the Economist and the Financial Times. For example, I bought Music at Midnight by John Drury on the strength of an Economist review, and wasn't disappointed.)
And I now have Charles Dickens as a Legal Historian waiting at home. That's 15 in all. I've been keeping quiet about it but it's my 11th Thingaversary this week, and I don't really need a visit from the enforcers. (If they do visit, I plan to distract them with cheese.)
And what was I doing in England? Getting vaccinated for my forthcoming trip to Africa, and going to a concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Haydn's The Seasons, based on James Thomson's long English poem of the same name. London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sophie Bevan, Mark Padmore (of whom I have been a total fanboi for years) and a baritone whose name escapes me at the moment, with Vladimir Jurowski conducting. The Seasons is not as often performed as Haydn's other great oratorio The Creation, but is completely satisfying in its own way. When Haydn wrote The Seasons, he would have been about the same age as I am now, so there is hope for me yet. Oh, and the text for The Seasons (and for The Creation as well) was written by an Austrian civil servant named Gottfried van Swieten. He was the head of the Imperial Library and he has another claim to fame:
I read most of What Jane Austen Ate ... on the flight home. Probably Something of His Art next.
>208 haydninvienna: Happy Thingaversary.
I think your list of acquisitions is sufficient to forestall any visit by the enforces, although your mention of cheese might bring them along on a courtesy visit.
I would have been one of the people enthusing about Imprimatur.
Your comments on Haydn's The Seasons have ensured I shall be seeking it out and listening to it. I am glad you enjoyed the concert. I know what lengths you go to when you want to hear Haydn and I am glad the effort was rewarded.
>208 haydninvienna: Happy Thingaversary!
Mentioning Baron von Swieten to a botanist immediately brings to mind Swietenia mahagoni, the scientific name of the Spanish Mahogany tree as in all the best Victorian furniture. It's now rare and endangered, and so I really should modify the route of the walks I lead in Durban Bot. Garden to show my victims the Mahogany tree growing there.
>208 haydninvienna: , >209 pgmcc: Thanks gentlemen!
Peter, The Seasons is definitely worth your time and effort. Yes, you definitely did recommend Imprimatur. So did jillmwo. So I have fairly high expectations.
Hugh, the van Swieten of mahogany fame was the father of the van Swieten who was the patron and librettist of Haydn (and Mozart and the young Beethoven as well). Van Swieten the elder seems to have been interesting in other ways--according to Wkipedia, he denounced the belief in vampires as superstition. "Characteristic for his opinion is this quotation from the preface to his essay of 1768 'that all the fuss doesn't come from anything else than a vain fear, a superstitious credulity, a dark and eventful imagination, simplicity and ignorance among the people.'"
>211 haydninvienna: Thereby showing the folly of not checking before posting! Thank you; you've given me a good story to tell the Highway Garden Club on 7 May.
>215 haydninvienna: Whoops! I missed your Thingaversary. Belated congratulations to on your staying power.
>216 -pilgrim-: Thanks! But as I explained elsewhere, it was really only a few months ago that I even started seriously cataloguing my books.
> 217 I came to LT to catalogue an inherited collection of books. I have also been adding books that I have read and/or acquired this year. I have resolutely avoided adding books read in the past/in my home collection. That way lies madness, and no time for actually reading.
>218 -pilgrim-: The ones I've catalogued so far are either in the UK or here in Doha, are in the main reasonably new even if bought used, and so have ISBNs or barcodes, which eases the cataloguing task considerably. I get the stash out of storage in Canberra, that will mean a lot more cataloguing work.
>218 -pilgrim-: *whispers* Come now, just do one shelf, only one, it won't consume you, you will feel sooo much better when you've done it. Really, you won't be compelled to do all the shelves, just one, then maybe another, try it, you will like it. Bwahahaaha!
I did much of my cataloging before I entered the workplace again, when I first joined. At first I only entered books I had read, now I enter them as they come into my home, or leave it. There are whole cases of books which have not been entered. Something to look forward to! I enjoy the process almost as much as I enjoy the reading thereof. To handle, examine the details, scan the covers if needed. It's like cuddling a book without consummation, you wouldn't want it to be your only activity, but it's nice.
Back in #194 I mentioned Not Much of an Engineer by Stanley Hooker, and -pilgrim- was incautious enough to express interest. My verdict is, don’t bother unless you’re a real completist. Hooker was a significant figure in the development of quite a few notable engines at both Rolls-Royce and Bristol. But the telling of the story is inevitably fairly superficial, and he skims pretty rapidly over the details of his own life—briefly mentioning his first wife (I don’t think we even find out her name) and no mention of his children beyond the appearance of two daughters in a photo caption. Nearly all of the personalities that get treated at any length are colleagues, and he is seldom critical of them.
I’m not sorry I read it, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
>221 haydninvienna: Thank you for the warning. I think I'll give that one a miss. He sounds like a private guy, with a (possibly) less than perfect private life, who is too decent a human being to write negative things about people. That would not diminish my respect for him, but perhaps biography was not the right form for him to write about his experiences.
>220 MrsLee: Vade retro Satana!
What? "Read me, read me" you say? Of course, my darlings...do not fear, I am coming...
*wanders off with a glazed look*
>222 -pilgrim-: That sounds about right. In fairness, he is open about some of this own failings, in particular about the odd clash of personalities that led to his departure from Rolls-Royce at the end of WW2. But it's not a warts-and-all autobiography.
Somewhere I have or had a copy of Leonard Setright's book The Power to Fly, which is rather severe on Rolls-Royce, although it names no names. Setright is decidedly partisan about Napier and the Napier Sabre engine, for which he seems to over-state the case somewhat. However, even Setright gives credit to Rolls-Royce for doing an extraordinarily good development job on the Merlin.
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