Haydninvienna (Richard) draws another draft ...
This is a continuation of the topic HaydninVienna (Richard) calls for another round ....
This topic was continued by Haydninvienna (Richard) reads with Jimmy Woods.
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Hi all, and I wish you a healthy, happy and tranquil 2020! I don't have anything to say in particular, but that has never stopped me so far.
Tomorrow I'm flying again to visit my family in England. For anyone who doesn't already know me, I do this a lot. Books may be somewhat involved, particularly in relation to Elder Daughter.
I wish you a great New Year and all the best for your trip. May 2020 bring you plenty of great reads.
It's so cool to know such a jet-setter! Safe travels and may the new year bring you many happy forays into many well-stocked bookshops.
>6 jillmwo: Don’t know about being a jet setter (I hope that’s nothing like a red setter) because at the moment I’m on a train between Birmingham and Cardiff. Is there a term for someone who travels by train a lot? Jet setting again on Saturday.
Incidentally, unlike the train journeys I ranted about in https://www.librarything.com/topic/309227#6951821, I have the whole first class compartment (all 9 seats of it) to myself, and there’s only 1 or 2 people in the remainder of the coach. If only train travel was always like this. But then of course the railway company would go bust, so perhaps not.
Happy new year! Wishing you safe travels and absorbing reading (but don't miss your stop!).
>9 haydninvienna: Probably because people are at home over the holiday week. I go back to work on Monday and I'm not looking forward to it. At least when I get on the train there's plenty of room (unless the earlier train was delayed or cancelled) but by the time I get to my stop 55 minutes later, it's standing room only.
I only hope the demolition work on the Huntingdon viaduct that's starting this month isn't going to cause much problems at my station:
As you can see, the viaduct crosses over the railway line and the station approach. The station staff told me they hope any station closures will be weekends or overnight, but I've warned my manager I may get some disruption. Luckily, I can work from home.
Happy 2020, Richard. I hope it is a good year in all respects.
Hmmmm! Jet Setter equivalent phrase for someone who travels by train? Deisel Trekker? Choo-choo champion?
>12 pgmcc: I sort of like “train-blazer”.
And I have just managed to get my daughter Katherine to join both LT and the Pub.
I said there would be books involved. There were a total of 11.
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk and This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal el-Mohtar, from Waterstones in Birmingham
Gun with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem and Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jason Lanier, gifts from Laura
Off the Map: Lost Spaces, Invisible Cities by Alastair Bonnett, The Art of Logic by Eugenia Cheng and One Economics, Many Recipes by Dani Rodrik, gifts from Katherine
The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, Elective Affinities by J W von Goethe and The Mark of the Beast and other Fantastical Tales by Rudyard Kipling, from Troutmark Books in Cardiff.
>15 hfglen: Katherine is cooking at the moment but says thanks, Hugh. Seems like we need to come up with another term then. Peter, how is your piffle party going?
>14 haydninvienna: Fingers crossed. Apparently, the idea is to build a safety deck under the viaduct so if anything does fall off it stands a chance of not damaging stuff (much - some of the girders underneath are on the large side). However, when we went through yesterday (I needed to activate my new season ticket), they hadn't done much over the Xmas break, only finished off the height guides (which a car transporter already tried to demolish before Xmas).
I usually park on Platform 3 (the car park to the left of the line) fairly close to the platform exit, but if the road is closed, I will have an extra 5 miles to drive to get to that side... My usual route is from the top right of the picture (there's a new access road). The Platform 2 car park tends to fill up a lot quicker and (even at 07:30) I usually end up at the southern end (which is off the bottom of the picture).
Incidentally, I’m treating Flights as a BB from pgmcc. Peter, did you ever write about it?
>19 haydninvienna: I have read only the first page so far. The Ceremonies stole a month of my reading time and I am only now getting over it.
It’s a bit like that book on anti-gravity; I just couldn’t put it down.
Just goes to show you. I just now googled “ytivarg” which to my surprise produced a lot of hits but not the one I wanted: a Wizard of Id cartoon from some time in the 1960s.
Gah. In the course of my jet-setting or rail-blazing over the last few days, I’ve picked up a cold and now I feel like shirt. Left work early today, something I rarely do. I have some Lemsip or equivalent, but of course no whiskey to add to it. Bother.
I’ve read 1 book so far this year: Off the Map: Lost Spaces, Invisible Cities (see #16 above). The touchstone goes to a different title but I’m pretty sure it’s the same book. I’ll post a little more about it when I’m not flat on my back with the iPad because it made some interesting connections with a couple of other things.
Yes, Off the Map: Lost Spaces, Invisible Cities, Forgotten Islands, Feral Places and what they tell us about the world.
It's about some places that don't exist, or have unusual ways of existing, like islands that may or may not be there, cities that don't appear on any map (such as the Russian cities that housed nuclear-weapons facilities); cities that have been abandoned like Pripyat (site of the Chernobyl reactor disaster) or Wittenoom (a town in the NW of Western Australia that used to mine blue asbestos). But my award for the weirdest one goes to a town that's very much alive and can easily be visited: the towns of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog. The conurbation is surrounded by Belgium but most of it is in the Netherlands. Within that enclave there are bits of Belgium, and within the bits there are bits of the Netherlands ... It's a bit like China Miéville's The City and the City (a point which Bonnett explicitly makes) except that the two Baarles do in fact see each other. Seriously, look at it on Google Maps. Apparently it was created by land-dealing between monarchs over several centuries.
Apart from the hat-tip to China Miéville, Bonnet has some things to say that are relevant to Bregman's book Utopia for Realists. One of Bonnet's categories is "Spaces of Exception", places in which normal rules do not apply. He discusses Hobyo, the pirate town in Somalia, and the "chitmahals" in the Ganges Delta. Of the chitmahals:
Their plight shook loose the last remnants of my anarchism or, at least, a vague anti-statism I had quietly nurtured well into middle age. My cosy faith in community autonomy, shaken by the bleakness of Hobyo, has been snuffed out by the chitmahals. Now when I read the nineteenth-century anarchist Bakunin, I wince. "If there is a state, there is domination, and in turn there is slavery", he claimed in 1873. And if there isn't a state? It usually turns out to be worse..
Gotta cold so stayed at home reading: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Not bad.
Nobody has bitten on the peculiar comment at the end of the last message, so I will increase the GD's post count a bit by explaining it.
Gun with Occasional Music is set in kind of an alternative San Francisco, at a time that could be anywhen between say 1945 and now or even a bit into the future. There are no police any more; instead there are Inquisitors, who seem to be very widely empowered to do not only the things that police do now but to run the justice system as well. Most of the population is addicted to a cocktail of drugs with names like forgettol and acceptol in various combinations, which they usually snort, but some people mainline. There are cars, but most of them are generic—only the richest have brand-name vehicles. There are "babyheads" instead of children. I never really worked them out. There are "evolved animals" which are used as servants. Basically, an evolved animal seems to be an actual animal modified (I don't know how) so it can function to some extent as a quasi-human being. I remember a minor character who is an evolved kitten; there is a major character who is an evolved ewe; and one of the major villains is an evolved kangaroo. (No spoiler there: you are told about the kangaroo on the back cover.) The point of the peculiar comment was that somewhere after first meeting the kangaroo, the hero thinks (I'm paraphrasing here, since I don't have the book at hand) that the kangaroo could make a nice pair of shoes. In Australia, kangaroo leather really is used to make shoes. It makes very nice shoes, in fact.
The weirdest bit about the book though (warning, huge spoiler here) is
Since I now seem to be afflicted with logorrhoea, a bit more on All the Birds in the Sky. For a start, I'll give it a retrospective bump to "very good" instead of "not bad".
I hadn't realised how many awards it had won! This of course doesn't mean that I would like it, but I find that it's one of the books that leaves a warm place inside you. Life-affirming, definitely. One thing puzzled me a little though: I find via Wikipedia that it won an Honorable Mention as "gender-bending SF". I know that neither the author nor the dedicatee are conventionally gendered (or however you say that in a way that won't get you into trouble), but there are at least 2 major romantic relationships in the book and both of them are decidedly hetero normal. So I don't see where "gender-bending" comes in. Nor do I care. It's a fine book on any terms.
Was I off the beam in thinking of Sourdough while reading it? The 2 books share almost nothing apart from a setting: mostly in and around San Francisco. Is there something about 21-st century San Francisco that seeps into books set there, so that they all start to kind of look similar?
Belated small weekend post.
My wife has been visiting, mainly to see the Qatar Open tennis final. (Seeing me figured somewhat, of course.) She had the unusual experience of seeing it rain in Doha. Last night, played at night under lights on what was by Doha standards a cold January night. She thought the tennis was great—Corentin Moutet played Andrey Rublev, and Rublev won, but I couldn't tell you the scores. I thought it was 2 extremely fit young men whacking yellow fuzzy spheres at each other. In 2016 we saw Rafael Nadal play Novak Djokovic under the same conditions (Djokovic won 6-2, 6-2).
The tournament is part of the ATP World Tour and the tickets are astonishingly cheap if you can get them quickly. For a match like Nadal v Djokovic, they sell out quickly, but this time the players were all young unknowns.
This morning we went out to the airport to get her shipped off home. I left her at the check-in desk and was on my way to work by metro when I got a phone call—turned out her flight was tomorrow, not today. Rather scarily, nobody noticed until the automatic gate at the entrance to the security check rejected her boarding pass. She is now joking that I can't even give her away. I pointed out that a day early is a lot better than a day late. So we had a lazy day and have just returned from an excellent dinner. It's possible to dine in Doha as well as anywhere in the world if you don't insist on eating pork.
Are you still feeling like shirt? I hope not. I'm also hoping you don't feel like kangaroo shoes.
Glad your wife got to visit and that you saw the rare rainfall. I am wondering how you both managed to mistake the airline ticket date!
>38 clamairy: I am wondering how you both managed to mistake the airline ticket date: So are we. It was Saturday and we were mooching around doing nothing in particular and she suddenly said something about checking in. At that stage apparently she had it in her head that she was flying on the Sunday, which of course is a working day here. It's routine for me to check her in even when we are not on the same continent because she gets impatient with anything that looks like a fiddly bit (such as being asked for a passport number). Also, for flights between here and the UK it's common for the airline to allow you to check in on line but not to issue a boarding pass until they've seen your passport at the airport. The crucial bit is that Qatar Airways allows you to check in 48 hours ahead and we were within that period. So I pulled up the booking code and went to the Qatar Airways website and checked her in without particularly looking at the date. Still basically on automatic pilot, we went to the airport yesterday morning and the airline took in her bag and issued a boarding pass without noticing the date. It was only when the automatic gate before security refused to accept the boarding pass that anyone twigged. Update as of 1052 Doha time on Monday: she is in the lounge at the airport, fuelling up for the flight.
Anyway, no harm done, and she has a story to tell.
Thank for the good wishes. I am now no longer feeling like shirt, and although I am wearing a pair of shoes that I bought in Australia I don't think they are kangaroo leather.
>40 pgmcc: As you know, I fly a lot, and I keep telling her that when travelling you need to be flexible. I think she is finally beginning to believe me.
And yes, it was a very pleasant weekend.
Weekend here, my first weekend at home for a month. I spent it washing, ironing, cleaning and fun stuff like that, but managed to read The Art of Logic: How to Make Sense in a World that Doesn't (touchstone goes to the US title but it's the same book) by Eugenia Cheng.
Ms Cheng is one of my favourite people. She is a mathematician and, I discover, also a concert-standard pianist. She has written 3 books for the general market now and I have all of them (and have actually read them). I think this latest was a courageous book (in Sir Humphrey Appleby's sense) because although it's a good book, and ought to be a useful one, I can't imagine most of the people who need to read it actually doing so. Having seen the book somewhere in London fairly recently and not bought it, I picked this copy up in the Oxfam shop in Cardiff when I was in there with TokenGingerKid (who bought it for me as a present) and her boyfriend a couple of weeks ago. It's brand new and in perfect condition, and shows no sign of ever having been so much as opened before. I wonder if the original buyer was offended by Ms Cheng's use of current issues like same-sex marriage, sexual oppression and the disproportionate number of African-Americans killed by police as examples.
Also, kudos to Ms Cheng for writing a book on being a logical person without ever mentioning Mr Spock.
Another trip back to England. I usually don't read on the flight to the UK, because I normally leave Doha about 0130 local time and arrive at Heathrow at about 0630 UK time. Therefore, that flight is for sleeping, so far as possible. Coming back is better for reading: leave LHR early afternoon, arrive back in Doha shortly after midnight, get home to bed at about 0130 (as I did last night).
The book yesterday was Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. I kind of bailed on this one, in that I skipped a lot of pages in the middle. It's a decent enough idea—the adventures of the young Mycroft Holmes in Trinidad among the apparently undead (who prove to be something equally unpleasant)—but I had some problems with a couple of things.
First, a point of basic plausibility. At the beginning, Mycroft is relatively poor. He is a young civil servant still making his way. But he owns a horse, and rides it as daily transport, in central London. My impression is that in the London of 1870, only the wealthiest kept saddle horses and then only for recreational riding. Horses were not ridden as daily transport. Of course there were many thousands of horses in London, but nearly all were draught animals: cab and carriage horses, and pulling carts, and so on. Not only does Mycroft have a riding horse himself, but at one point he is pursued by a gang of toughs who mean him harm, and the gang are also riding their own horses. Now I don't find any of that plausible. Can anyone tell me otherwise?
I was also going to take issue with the Secretary of State for War (Mycroft's boss) looking out into Pall Mall from his office window, since I worked in Whitehall for a couple of years and frequently passed the Old War Office Building on the corner of Whitehall and Horse Guards Avenue. Glad I didn't. On checking it turns out that the War Office was indeed in Cumberland House on Pall Mall between 1858 and 1906.
Second, language. Mycroft is a properly spoken Victorian Englishman. He is unlikely to have described a building as "catty-cornered" with another building. He would have said that the buildings were diagonally opposite each other. (My Shorter Oxford identifies the word as "N. Amer. — dial.".) That's by way of example only. His friend Douglas calls him "a smug little sot" in the course of an entirely friendly conversation over brandy and cigars. "Sot" does actually occur at least once in the Holmes canon: Sherlock Holmes uses it to describe the addicts in an opium den. But having Douglas call Mycroft a sot made me wonder if the authors actually knew what it meant. Maybe there was an implication that I was just too sleep-deprived to notice.
Now of course I've looked at the reviews, and I see MrsLee liked it. Well, so did I, kind of. But hey, we can't all like the same things.
>43 haydninvienna: That sounds like a major warm-off to me. I can't imagine Mycroft Holmes as having a serious alcohol problem.
(And I am with you on the horses too.)
>44 -pilgrim-: I don't think it was intended to be suggested that anybody had an alcohol problem. Holmes and Douglas were drinking fine Armagnac on the evening of the Boat Race, on which Holmes had made a very successful wager. Neither was drunk. And they really are the best of friends, as the rest of the book makes clear. I think what struck me as odd was that the tone of the comment was wrong.
Horses are expensive. I know: my wife has 3 of them. Admittedly things might have been a bit different in 1870, but my wife keeps hers on a farm, not in the middle of a large city.
>45 haydninvienna: But that, surely, is the implication of calling someone a sot - that they are, either currently or habitually, so soused as to be completely out of it?
I would need further research, but my impression is that in the Victorian era even the rich did not necessarily keep their own horses in London for their rides out on the Mall, in Hyde Park etc. Officers, whose regiments have barracks in London, would be a different matter, of course.
London certainly had a lot of horses, of course, but carriage and draught animals cannot be suddenly repurposed for riding.
Livery costs increase dramatically in urban locations. My cousins kept their own horses, but they live in the country. I also used to ride, but grew up in too urban an area to do so myself.
>46 -pilgrim-: I agree about the normal implication and that's exactly how Sherlock Holmes used the word. As I said above, I felt that perhaps an error had been made. I noticed also that near the end, Mrs Hudson (the very one who is Sherlock's landlady at 221B) refers to her husband, who is a drunkard, as "no-account". Conan Doyle's Mrs Hudson might have called her husband "worthless" but "no-account" is, according to the Cambridge Dictionary on line, "US old-fashioned informal".
Update: On looking at the SOED, I see that its first sense for "sot" is "foolish or stupid person". I still think that the drunkard sense was the standard one in 1870.
>46 -pilgrim-: Recalling my readings of Georgette Heyer suggests you are correct - only the wealthy rode in London, and that only recreationally - riding in the Park, anyone? Transport was either on foot or carriage (personal or hired). Remember most people lived near or at their place of work; any who didn't either walked miles or took a hackney cab.
Even shopping trips for Heyer heroines were done on foot or they were taken by carriage and walked before they were collected by carriage. By today's standards, people walked a whole lot more.
>48 Maddz: Would you want to risk your prize thoroughbred's hocks on London's cobbled streets? Only on the better-maintained ones, I think.
I remember my reading of Black Beauty (by Anna Sewell), which in its unabridged original form is far from an enjoyable adventure story for horse-mad girls. It was written as a polemic (ETA: addressed to adults) about the abuse of horses, and is vividly descriptive about how easily a well-bred horse could be seriously injured when used on London streets. Drays had a very different build, and were used for a reason. (I am trying desperately not to say "horses for courses" here!)
>49 -pilgrim-: Plenty of horses get ridden on motor roads around Oxfordshire, but none of those roads are cobbled. Although Wikipedia asserts, on I know not what authority, that "Shod horses are also able to get better traction on stone cobbles, pitches or setts than tarmac or asphalt.".
>48 Maddz: Recalling my readings of Georgette Heyer: My point exactly.
>50 haydninvienna: Probably because the horse gets better traction on the uneven surface. Although oddly tarmac or asphalt is better for wheeled traffic - a much smoother ride with less friction.
It should also matter whether the road is neatly cobbled (e.g.midern heritage areas) or full of pot-holes and littered with loose cobbles (Victorian London).
>43 haydninvienna: I was probably more generous in my review than I thought. I have no clue when it comes to historical accuracy, etc. I remember thinking that the story was better than I had expected of it, and being pleasantly surprised. Sometimes a fun ride is all I'm looking for. :)
As for the insult offered by Douglas to Mycroft, surely that was a false insult offered only in humor and not meant to be taken seriously? Perhaps that is another American thing in the story? I frequently call my cats Jerks, when in fact, they are only cats and the insult is an affectionate way of expressing my annoyance with them.
I didn’t start a weekend thread for this but I’m in Metz in France. Concert—3 Schubert symphonies and the first Haydn cello concerto. So Haydn in Metz rather than Vienna. Bought a couple of books too. More later.
>56 pgmcc: Thanks Peter. Update: fabulous! It doesn't get much better. The B'Rock Orchestra (that really is their name) with René Jacobs conducting, and Nicolas Altstaedt as cello soloist. Brilliant playing, with style, vivacity and precision. Schubert 5th Symphony (a jewel of a symphony, and I don't care if it's derivative of Mozart), the Haydn first cello concerto and the Schubert Eighth (the so-called "Unfinished") and Third Symphonies. Colour me very happy indeed, to the extent that I almost missed my train back to Luxembourg. (I stayed overnight in Luxembourg city partly because that was the flight I was offered and partly because it's the only one of the original six EU member states that I'd never been to. Given the date, I thought it was appropriate. Over the weekend, I passed through 4 EU member states—Germany, Luxembourg, France and Italy—without ever having to show a passport.)
And the books came from an English bookshop, in the old town of Luxembourg. I bought:
• A Brief History of Infinity: The Quest to Think the Unthinkable by Brian Clegg
• Shelf Life: Writers on Books and Reading by Alex Johnson
• Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein.
The Clegg is fascinating, if a trifle brain-bending, although I didn't find much new to me. That's not a claim to any particular expertise—just that I've read a good many popular books about the mathematics of infinity and some of it has stuck.
The Johnson one was worth the price for the essays by Kipling and Theodore Roosevelt. The Kipling essay was actually the transcript of a speech. Whatever you think of his politics, he must have been a worthwhile speaker.
>57 haydninvienna: I am envious of you seeing Rene Jacobs conduct in concert. I love his Bach recordings with Concerto Vocale.
>59 Sakerfalcon: Oddly, I've known of him for a long time, but never heard much of his recordings. Something that disquieted me a little: Jacobs conducts sitting down. Given that he is 73 that's perhaps unsurprising, but the last conductor that I saw conduct seated was Sir Charles Mackerras, and he died not too long afterwards.
I have to admit--my technical knowledge of music is the polar opposite of huge. But I love it, and hear a lot of it, and know what I like. I think I can generally tell when an orchestra knows what it's doing, and this one certainly did.
This bloke sounds like our kind of guy: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-belgrade-book-museum-thats-survived-wa....
>64 MrsLee: I think that, if they had, Tim's work managing the database would have exploded. Over a million books, and many of them very obscure. But I'm scheming to pay them a visit.
Edited to clarify the syntax!
Weekend, spent cleaning, doing laundry and ironing. Plus read a book out of my recent acquisitions: It's Better Than It Looks by Greg Easterbrook. This is now on my "yes we do have a future" shelf along with The Angels of Our Better Nature by Steven Pinker, Winning the War on War by Joshua Goldstein, and The Great Escape by Angus Deaton. Easterbrook makes out a pretty convincing case that old people think the good old days (which of course never really were) were better because the future will be different and change is threatening. We know the past, we think, and that's safe. Therefore, anyone who promises to bring the good old days back has an easy run. As to the good old days, I remember the 50s and 60s in Queensland, and have no wish to revisit them.
One of Easterbrook's talking points is how much Facebook and Twitter have contributed to the prevailing FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). His answer: quite a bit. Another book I have on the TBR is Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier.
Walked into the coffee shop in our building this morning and saw this:
Just for the sake of clarity, it's a chain coffee shop—I won't say which chain beyond that it's UK-based. The odd thing is that there was nothing else book-related around. Just the poster standing opposite the door.
It must have been put there by an undercover reading movement. Reading activists strike a blow for the freedom to read. Long live the READ!
>73 pgmcc: Along these lines, maybe?
A bit of complete randomness: Does anyone have anything to say about M. John Harrison's "Viriconium" books and stories? I came upon the Wikipedia article accidentally and they look like something I might enjoy. By chance I'll be back in Bicester tomorrow and the Oxfordshire library system has the complete volume so I've put in a reservation for it.
>76 haydninvienna: I liked them. They are dark and weird with a far future/dying Earth setting. I read them spread out over a few years as I own the SF Masterworks collection. That was a while ago though, hence my rather vague comments.
>77 Sakerfalcon: Thanks. That's the impression I was getting. Weird I can handle, dark I'm not sure about, but we will see.
The Viriconium book hasn’t arrived yet. Bother. I might have to re-request it and eat the £1.25 charge a second time.
In Doha Airport on Thursday night I bought Humble Pi by Matt Parker, and managed to read it in the course of the flight. Not bad, and at times even funny, about the ways in which mathematical errors can screw things up. Although there’s a lot of engineering issues in the book, I thought the really scary bit was right at the end, where he talks of a major engineering endeavour of which one of his friends had personal knowledge, which went seriously wrong. He wanted to write it up but found he couldn’t because of various non-disclosure agreements. As he rightly points out, nobody else can benefit from that experience. The aviation business introduced no-penalty self reporting of errors many years ago, and aviation safety benefited significantly. I believe medical practice is moving in the same direction. (For an even scarier counter example, see https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30351-2/fulltext?dgcid=raven_jbs_etoc_email).
Just now, in the bookshop in Terminal 4, I bought On the Map by Simon Garfield, and Around the World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh. Just so I would have something to read on the flight. Along with The Man Who Was Thursday, which is in my pocket, and The Great Stink by Clare Clark, and The City and the City by China Miéville, which are in my carry-on bag.
ETA Humble Pi has an idiosyncratic page numbering. That is, the main text is numbered backwards. The notes pages are numbered with 8-digit numbers that look like powers of something.
>78 haydninvienna: They're dark, but not grimdark. I enjoyed them - mind you, it's been a while since I read them. We still have the print editions lurking somewhere.
>82 -pilgrim-: Sorry about that. I have a free email subscription to a couple of the Lancet sub-journals and it came up on that. My browsers are probably full of cookies identifying me as a subscriber, so I can't easily test the links. It's The Lancet, vol 395 issue 10223, dated 15 February 2020, p 467. It's the editorial and the title is "Complicit silence in medical malpractice". Here is a link to the actual report of the inquiry, which should work: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attac....
Less seriously, the "flight home" book was */taking careful aim at hfglen and busifer/*Around the World in 80 Trains. This proved to be something of a find. Rajesh is a British journalist who already has a book out about travelling by train around India, and got hooked on train travel. So for her next project, she decided to do something close to riding all the trains in the world (or so it seems). Bravely she took her fiance along, for 7 months of riding some of the best and worst trains in the world, from the Eurostar and the Venice-Simplon Express to crappy rural trains in obscure corners of Indo-China, and to North Korea and Tibet. Unfortunately, no Africa or Australia. I don't envy them some of the nastier ones (as I said above, I'm a coward, and I like things to work; she is more adventurous than I am). But it was definitely a fun read, and she has interesting things to say about trains, and travel, and people. Four stars for the book and another half-star for the fact that after Rajesh and her fiance returned to England they still got married.
I am still pondering the 4 star book and a 1/2 star marriage.
You did not hit me with Around the World in 80 Trains but you did remind me of an ambition a younger pgmcc had to ride the Transiberian Express from Minsk to Vladivostok. That is what prompted my efforts to learn Russian in my early twenties. I did not persevere and, as I told Sakerfalcon and -pilgrim- when we met, the only sentence I can speak in Russian translates as, “I cannot speak Russian.”
>84 pgmcc: Extra half star for the book! I have no information about whether their marriage is stellar or not, but I gather that there are now 2 daughters.
They did ride one of the trans-Siberian trains, but to Beijing, not Vladivostok.
I'm a couple of days late for this, but:
"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
>83 haydninvienna: Thanks, Richard. Something for me to depress myself further with.
To quote the Northern Irish comedian, Frank Carson, “It’s the way I tell ‘em!”
>90 MrsLee: Thanks MrsL. For anyone who doesn't see the point, the pic is a frame from the "family portrait" taken on 14 February 1990 by Voyager 1, which at the time was well out beyond the orbit of Saturn. The dot in the streak of sunlight at the right of the frame is the Earth, from about 3.7 billion miles away. The quoted text is by Carl Sagan. The image was reprocessed this year using modern techniques, which is why I posted it now.
Voyager 1, incidentally, is still alive and still transmitting. "At a distance of 148.67 AU (22.2 billion km; 13.8 billion mi) from Earth as of January 19, 2020 it is the most distant man-made object from Earth". One of the most wildly successful space launches ever.
>94 hfglen: I think you will find only the trailer on youtube. There appears to also be a 45 minute panel discussion about it on youtube.
It appears to be on Netflix but if you do not have Netflix that does not help you.
I was thinking that it was getting a bit quiet in the Pub, but things seem to have picked up again. I finished On the Map by Simon Garfield, and I agree with >80 Bookmarque: that it's a fun read. Not quite a history of cartography, more a long essay on how maps have influenced and are still influencing us.
I spent the weekend starting and not finishing books (including The Enchanted April and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, although I don't doubt I will finish both of them in due course) and both starting and finishing The Man Who Was Thursday. This was a re-read, and as always I was blown away by Chesterton's sheer virtuosity. The plot is completely ridiculous, but do you care? There's much more in it than just the plot.
Now, having a minor touch of the blues (it's been a funny day here weather-wise, foggy for most of the day) I need something light and cheerful. You know what? When I get home this evening I'm going to see if I can find The Lady's Not for Burning by Christopher Fry. This play would be pretty well forgotten now except for Margaret Thatcher's misquotation of the title, but light and cheerful it is despite the subject (world-weary returned soldier wants to be hanged; "the lady" of the title is accused of being a witch and threatened with being burnt). Of course it all ends happily. Someone on Amazon called it "the best Shakespeare play not written by Shakespeare", and I think that's about right. I have a copy somewhere, but at the moment I'm reading an OCR-ed text on line, and it's full of errors. Even so, much of the gorgeous language comes through. And there is a version of the original 1949 production on YouTube, plus bits of the 1985 made-for-TV version with Kenneth Branagh.
>97 haydninvienna: I recall seeing the play, but whether it was a stage production in Bristol or London, or the TV version (might have been Chichester - we used to go to that), I don't recall. Unfortunately, my carefully saved programmes probably got chucked when my sister cleared my mother's house (unless they got stashed in the attic).
It may well have been the Branagh version I recall. I have a vague recollection of sepia tones.
Bother. The 1949 version (Gielgud as Thomas Mendip (the soldier) and Richard Burton as Richard the clerk) on YouTube is audio only, and not very good. The 1985 version is only part of Act 1 and seems to begin in the middle, but it does have Cherie Lunghi as Jennet delivering this:
Jennet. May I, Jennet Jourdemayne, the daughterI found that a version on DVD is available from Amazon US, so I took a punt and ordered it.
And I found the copy I had. I see I bought it in Richard Booth’s shop in Hay-on-Wye on 2 June 2016. It reads like a collaboration between Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and Nöel Coward. I would love to see it performed.
>92 pgmcc: I don't have Netflix either, but it appears to be on Amazon Prime Video, which I do have.
Two events of importance for me next week: my Thingaversary and the expiry of my residence permit in Qatar. The second one is making me nervous because the Qatari government has a policy of not employing expats over 60, and I am well over that. I expect I will be renewed, but certainly for the last time.
So what am I doing about this? I’m in Budapest having a good time. Lunch in an Irish pub, which was actually good, and some book buying. Concert tonight.
The books so far are The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, for which I took a BB from someone the other day; The Pendragon Legend by Antal Szerb, which was a BB from thorold; and The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell, which I meant to buy in Greece last year but missed it. I flipped the last one open in the shop and found a description of Durrell’s normally placid mother abruptly becoming very forceful when faced with a clairvoyant. Sold on the spot! I went to the particular shop with the specific intention of buying the Szerb.
I’m counting all of these as Thingaversary acquisitions. Off to Prague on the train tomorrow morning, and there will be some more acquisitions there.
Enjoy the book buying and concert. Glad to hear you enjoyed your lunch. Might one enquire as to your choice from the menu?
Good luck with the residence permit.
Have a great time in Prague.
I think I recall the thread where you were hit by The Scarlet Letter BB. That same post reminded me that I have both The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables to read, the latter purchased in Salem after seeing the house of the seven gables.
Speaking of rolling on the floor laughing, I had a lovely experience yesterday at lunchtime. I went to the café in the Books Upstairs bookshop to have a cup of tea and a bit of a quiet read. As I was sitting reading my book the lady at the next table, who was also reading a book, laughed out loud. She repeated this several times on the next quarter of an hour.
I thought it was lovely that someone was getting such pleasure from a book and that they were not afraid to burst out laughing in the company of others. Unfortunately I was sitting at the wrong angle to see what the title of the book was.
>103 pgmcc: “traditional shepherd’s pie” and a Magners cider. The pie was actually good. I never lost my affection for Magners cider. >104 hfglen:, >107 -pilgrim-: I first encountered Gerald Durrell’s animal books when I was still in primary school, I think. There were probably bits of them that I failed to appreciate fully.
ETA the concert was great. MuPa, the concert venue, is a bit out of the way but I valiantly found my way there and back on the Budapest tram system. The venue itself is amazing—worth a visit just to look. Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, which is based in London, but the leader made a point of saying that they feel very much part of Europe.
>108 haydninvienna: I am aware that there are two versions of his Corfu reminiscences. One suitable for children, and the other - not so much. Reading the one as a child, then the other as a teenager, was quite an eye-opener.
>109 -pilgrim-: Really? I wasn't aware of that.
I would consider My Family and Other Animals suitable for children, the other books not so much (I'm going by memory on The Garden of the Gods - my first edition went astray many years ago). I'm reading Birds, Beasts and Relatives at the moment and there's bits in that that probably aren't suitable for pre-teens. Bear in mind the first book was originally published in 1956, the next in 1969, the last in 1978, so there were changing standards throughout that time.
Some of his non-naturalist short story collections I would not consider suitable for young children at all - I would say some stories are very definitely aimed at an adult audience.
Nice long train ride from Budapest to Prague today. The train was a Czech one—isn’t Europe wonderful? Much of Hungary’s railway system looks very neglected, perhaps not surprising considering their history. But it’s astonishing how much things improve once you get over the border into Slovakia.
Another battle with a tram system this afternoon, this time in Prague, to visit the Shakespeare a Synové bookshop in the old town. Crossed the Vltava on the way, humming Smetana as we did so. But got there and back again, bearing The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman; I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal; Monday Starts on Saturday by the Strugatsky brothers; and The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr by E T A Hoffmann. More grist for the Thingaversary mill. That’s 7 books bought, and since it’s my 12th Thingaversary I have 6 to go, unless pgmcc comes up with a formula that even Archimedes, who managed to count all the grains of sand in the world, would have difficulty with.
There seem to be quite a few bookshops in Europe that have Shakespeare in their names, starting with the one in Paris. The one in Prague has a sister in Berlin, but those two are not connected with the one in Vienna, nor with the Paris one.
Tomorrow Prague to Vienna on the train, and the flight home. Unfortunately no time to do anything in Vienna beyond hopping onto an aeroplane.
>111 haydninvienna: Your train rides and book shop jaunts do sound delightful, but for some reason I can't stop laughing at this: "unless pgmcc comes up with a formula that even Archimedes, who managed to count all the grains of sand in the world, would have difficulty with." He will have to rise to the occasion now, no doubt.
>117 pgmcc: Or simply that there is something larger than infinity - such as infinity to the power of infinity?
i.e. an infinite hierarchy of infinities.
>117 pgmcc: >118 -pilgrim-: I can suggest a couple of excellent books on infinity: try Beyond Infinity by Eugenia Cheng.
ETA Wikipedia's article on Archimedes' essay "The Sand Reckoner" includes this appropriate sentence: "Recall that Archimedes's meta-goal with this essay was to show how to calculate with what were previously considered impossibly large numbers, not simply to accurately calculate the number of grains of sand in the universe.".
I've been quiet this week because my residence permit still hasn't been renewed and I'm taking up energy worrying. But I'm not technically illegal yet. Hoping for something positive tomorrow now. It was supposed to take a week and that was up today. The HR guy at work still doesn't seem to be worried.
>102 haydninvienna: >103 pgmcc: The Scarlet Letter and House of Seven Gables discussion was on my thread just after I had finished reading TSL.
Good luck with the Gerald Durrell books - I read Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons last November a great tale of his trip to Mauritius to retrieve skinks and pink pigeons (and bats of course!). Two of my favourite children's books by him are The Fantastic Flying Journey and The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure but despite having looked any number of times to try and find 'modern' copies that could be passed to children of my acquaintance, I have been unable to find them. Maybe at some point, someone will republish them (although I'm running out of age appropriate children!)
>120 haydninvienna: Good luck with the permit!
I have been around less because I am trying to
a) find somewhere else to stay
b) get house repairs done
c) recover from what seems like 'flu.
(The latter increases reading, but is counterproductive to the other two goals.)
Hang in there
>123 -pilgrim-: I hope c) is "only" flu and not the dreaded Covid-19! Get well soon!
And best of luck to Richard with the permit.
>123 -pilgrim-: >124 hfglen: Thanks. I'm actually waiting for the HR guy to pick up my expired card now. He assures me it will happen today and that I have nothing to worry about.
And >123 -pilgrim-: yes most definitely get better soon. Apart from anything else there is enough paranoia and general stupidity around already about CoVid-19. People are apparently panic-buying toilet paper in Oz, although my Australian-resident sons theorise that it's Chinese people buying it to send to relatives in the old country. Apparently there has been an upsurge of courier companies shipping to China.
Incidentally, Hugh, this might be of interest: https://www.librarything.com/topic/317503#7089055 (Lab Girl by Hope Jahren).
Sounds good, but I've not seen it.
Incidentally, two weeks ago I encountered a silly woman (sorry, but the tag fits) who quizzed me thoroughly over tea on did I think CoVid-19 would appear here ever; I said without a doubt (and eight days later, it did). But then got to thinking some stats. The figures the Chinese published suggest that less than 1% of their population have caught the virus, and of those only about 3% have died. So one's chances of catching it are minimal if one takes precautions, and compared to one's chances of being run over by a bus (especially here, where the standard of driving is awful) one's chances of succumbing are also remote. I often think that people like that silly woman should be invited to study the 14th-century Black Death in Europe, where 33-50% of the population caught the bug, and the mortality rate was effectively 100%. The fallout endures to this day, and (just as with AIDS a few years ago) we're not seeing anything similar from the current panic.
>125 haydninvienna:, >126 hfglen:
Yes, the panic buying seems to have set in here too, unfortunately. A friend of mine saw a woman clear the newly stocked shelves in Tesco by putting 9 BOXES of sanitising wipes into her trolley. Not 9 packets of wipes, but 9 of the cartons in which the packets are supplied to the supermarket!
On infection rates, however, we do have Chris Whitty, the UK's Chief Medical Officer, preparing the country for a worst case model where 80% of the population becomes infected. His point was, of course, that even if that scenario does come true, the number of serious cases, and fatalities, would still be extremely low.
I was shocked by how many people were wearing face masks when I passed through Heathrow airport a fortnight ago.
And even before that, I was sitting in a coffee shop, opposite a couple, the woman appearing to be of Chinese ethnicity. I saw a complete strange, who had been at the table next to mine, go up to her and say, "I hope you don't mind my asking, but you have not come from China recently, have you?" (Very British - being extremely impertinent, but with impeccable manners.)
Idiocy levels are depressing.
And not confined to the general public.
The last time that I was sitting in a crowded A&E department, I heard the staff complaining (to each other) that it was so crowded because they had just had a suspected Coronavirus case in there, so the relevant cubicle was being scrubbed out. Apparently the patient had done the sensible thing and phoned NHS 111 (the official advice line) - and the staff there had directed him to go to A&E!
*holds head in despair*
>127 -pilgrim-: I didn't mention this previously, but when I went into the Carrefour supermarket opposite the office on Monday, the place was an absolute madhouse. Every_single_aisle in the store (it's a biggish store, about the size of a decent Tesco) had a queue of trolleys in it, and most of the checkouts were open (unusual--Carrefour's customer service standards here are not high). I wanted only a few things but couldn't find one of the small trolleys so was limited to what I could carry. Went back yesterday morning in the hope of getting the bits that I couldn't carry the night before. No problem, got the stuff and a bit extra (no more in all than one big bag full). Back yesterday afternoon because I fancied some fruit and things were basically back to normal, and there were no obvious signs of any shortages, although I saw one checkout operator make a guy leave a box of antiseptic wipes and just take 2 packets.
Supermarkets here are pretty much like those in England, with the obvious exceptions (no booze and no pork, basically). Carrefour seems to be the biggest operator here and elsewhere in MENA—I encountered a really grotty one in Sharm al_Sheikh in Egypt—but there are others. The only real difficulty I find with them is that it's advisable not to get attached to a particular brand or item, because they might not have it next week. (My particular issue is that they keep not-having whole coffee beans.) No idea whether that's because Qatar is a small location at the end of a long supply chain, or just that their purchasing is incompetent.
Just seen this on Atlas Obscura: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/an-illustrated-guide-to-countries-that-no-.... The idea of a series of guidebooks to countries that no longer exist is really interesting. I notice he mentions the Austro-Hungarian empire—a guidebook about that would be a project and a half.
>129 haydninvienna: What a cool idea! Just imagine one on Monomotapa, or the Portuguese maritime empire (as it stood when? 15th century? 20th century?) or for that matter the Dutch East India Company's territory.
It seems that Qatar's government had more emergency measures in place, but the population is taking it more calmly than in the UK.
>129 haydninvienna: Argh - that was not so much sniping as using a machine gun! I now not only want that book, but everything else produced under that imprint. That is my sort of tourism.
>131 -pilgrim-: No, only sniping, because so far there's only 1 book and it isn't even out yet. But yes, it could be a fine old source of BBs.
>130 hfglen: I agree it's a pretty nice idea--I may even "kickstarter" them some money. But have you looked at the lists on Wikipedia of countries that no longer exist? There must be hundreds of them. My favourite candidate for the next one: Carpatho-Ukraine, which declared its independence on 15 March 1939 and was immediately invaded by the Hungarian army (allied with the Nazis). Hungary annexed the territory the next day.
The population here seems to be staying pretty calm. We've had a mass mail-out by text message from the Ministry of Health saying that everything necessary is being done, and the building has come out in a rash of hand-sanitiser dispensers. Inbound travellers from some countries are examined and may be subject to quarantine, and from certain countries only transit passengers are being accepted, but that's about it (as in, if you're coming from China and your destination is here, you won't be allowed in). It probably helps that thanks to the "blockade" there's only one entry point to Qatar, through the airport. The land border with Saudi Arabia has been closed since 2016. We do get cruise liners calling here, but the numbers aren't large, and cruising seems to have basically stopped anyway.
>132 haydninvienna: I'm on leave this week, but when I was in the office last week, there were hand sanitisers all over the place - including the 'wrong' side of the security door into the office. By 'wrong' side I mean that you are supposed to use the sanitiser, then swipe yourself in, grabbing the door handle to open the door (it's not automatic).
As I'd been down with a heavy cold and was still at that point coughing and sneezing, my boss said to work from home the rest of the week. I was going to miss the team catch-up because of a conference call, so she said I might as well call from home. Suited me! (I've finally got rid of the runny nose now.)
We'll see what happens next week - I usually work from home Monday & Friday, but I need to add a program to my corporate laptop so I can access all my programmes (not all are available via Citrix on my Mac). I suspect I may be in line for working at home for the duration.
I'm also in the high risk bracket - diabetes and age...
I GOT MY NEW RESIDENCE PERMIT! Sorry for shouting, but this is really, really good news for me.
>134 haydninvienna: Congratulations! That is nice bit of news ahead of the weekend. Well done. They obviously value you and your work.
>137 haydninvienna: Looking at the advice being spread around here it would be appropriate to hold a socially distant party. Apparently we need to keep about two metres apart and, if need be, sneeze or cough into our sleeves or a tissue.
I suspect in our current configuration we can keep to the 2 metre rule and our sneezing hygiene will be handled in our own way, but still will not infringe the social-distance rules.
Rigth, what are you all having. Guinness as usual, Richard?
>138 -pilgrim-: Yes indeed.
>139 pgmcc: Guinness, yes, absolutely thanks Peter. After that the virtual party is on me, virtually. (Anybody got any cheese? I'm about to put some actual Gorgonzola into my dinner, but I can't share it except virtually.) And I say it who shouldn't but my last performance review was pretty good.
Virtual parties are all the rage - and sharing food virtually (we recently received advice that birthday cakes and the like should not be brought in to work environments as people should not share food in the current situation unless items to be shared are individually wrapped)
>145 Peace2: Oh dear, the Policy staff at the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority might be in trouble then. We had our regular Thursday morning get-together this morning, and the food included a really good custard flan made by one of our number. No wrapping of any kind.
ETA and thanks for the congrats too (sorry).
As a footnote to >126 hfglen: , I offer a couple of online sources: one from the World Health Organisation (did you get your flu shot this year?) and one from Science News.
Over the weekend I did something that might be seen as rash: going back to England. No problem getting flights, even though I booked less than 12 hours before departure time. Airports quieter than usual, TfL Rail into London somewhat less crowded than usual for a Friday morning, and other trains almost empty. Paddington station noticeably quieter. Mrs Haydninvienna and I went to the local pub for dinner and it was also quieter than usual for a Friday evening. Weather in England reasonable for the time of year, and overall the only excitement was because the boot/trunk of Mrs H's car stuck shut, which did not please her at all.
In the course of the day I finally picked up the Viriconium book from the library and in the course of a very quick scan around also picked up Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson and Handel in London by Jane Glover. Frankissstein has seen a good deal of love on LT recently—apparently it's a re-telling of the Frankenstein story but creating a woman. Handel in London is of course on my wish list.
And just to top it all off, I found that my copies of Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool had arrived, even though Amazon thought that there was a delivery problem with one of them. I know I took a BB from someone about these, but can't remember who. They are short and I read both on the journey home. Both deal with murder among the SF fan community, and neither paints that community in an especially flattering light. Neither is exactly heavyweight but they're fun. And the titles give no clue at all to what the stories are about. In particular, Zombies ... contains no reference at all to shambling brain-eating Undead or anything like them. However, I think I see the reason for the title:
My copy of (inter alia) The Lady's Not for Burning on DVD just turned up in the mail here. I might even watch it tonight, if I can stay awake long enough.
Minor silver lining: we have just been informed that our working hours will be 8AM to 3pm from tomorrow until further notice. No effect on pay etc. OTOH, if we travel we are on our own.
>150 -pilgrim-: In some ways I think I actually liked the second one better, but I’m not sure she got her toxicology right. You really can kill someone who is on Elavid (amitriptyline) by feeding them an MAO-inhibitor, and the result could well be as described, but Dr Giles
Anyway, I enjoyed my time with Jay and Marion. I don’t see them getting too many more invitations to SF cons though, do you?
>129 haydninvienna: Oh, that looks fascinating. I love the concept.
>151 haydninvienna: Maybe because amitriptyline is prescribed for anxiety, and she has confused being hypertensive with being "tense"?
That plot point passed me by when I was reading it. Elavid was not a brand name that I had heard of, and the ubiquitous Google option for everything was not available back then.
The question that I ended up pondering was not so much whether Jay and Marion ever get invited to a con again, but whether Sharyn McCrumb would?
Note: I read those books before I had ever been to a SF convention. It considerably increased my trepidation level when I did actually go.
I have heard rumours that the Famous Author was intended as a lampoon of the week-known convention attendee
>153 -pilgrim-: I knew about the supposed connection of Famous Author with the person that you mention, but it's always unsafe trying to connect a fictional character with a real person. The quick temper and the shortness are obvious, but I'm not aware that the person you mention ever threw a chair at anyone. (Note: not aware, not (s)he didn't.) Also, the person that you mention didn't get stuck in a rut writing one book over and over again. In a way, I'd be more interested to know if there was a real person behind the pseudo-elf nemesis "Tratyn Runewind".
Having looked at the Wikipedia article, I rather wish that my copy had the original cover.
I had no particular problem finding copies on Amazon.
Since our working day has now been abbreviated somewhat, I've just watched The Lady's Not for Burning. Copyright Yorkshire Television 1987, Kenneth Branagh as Thomas Mendip, Cherie Lunghi as Jennet Jourdemayne. A lot of the dialogue that's in my printed text from 1949 was cut, but my goodness there's still some gorgeous lines in there. Apologies in advance to the non-lovers of poetry but I'm going to quote some stuff.
For example, this was cut:
(Alizon is affianced to Humphrey, who is really pretty much of a twerp, and has recently discovered that Richard is a much better person)
ALIZON. Humphrey's a winter in my head.
But whenever my thoughts are cold and I lay them
Against Richard's name, they seem to rest
On the warm ground where summer sits
As golden as a humblebee.
So I did very little but think of you ...
And this was cut: (Thomas Mendip is a world-weary soldier who is trying to persuade the town authorities to hang him; Jennet Jourdemayne is a young woman who is accused of being a witch and is facing the very real possibility of being burned at the stake the next day)
THOMAS. All right! You've done your worst. You force me to
The disastrous truth. I love you. A misadventure
So intolerable, hell could not do more.
Nothing in the world could touch me
And you have to come and be the damnable
Exception. I was nicely tucked up for the night
Of eternity, and, like a restless dream
Of a fool's paradise, you, with a rainbow where
Your face is and an ignis fatuus
Worn like a rose in your girdle, come pursued
By fire, and presto! the bedclothes are on the floor
And I, the tomfool, love you. Don't say again
That this doesn't concern me, or I shall say
That you needn't concern yourself with to-morrow's burning.
I love you, perfectly knowing
You're nothing but a word out of the mouth
Of that same planet of almighty blemish
Which I long to leave. But the word is an arrow
Of larksong, shot from the earth's bow, and falling
In a stillborn sunrise. — I shall lie in my grave
With my hands clapped over my ears, to stop your music
From riddling me as much as the meddling worms.
But this wasn't:
JENNET. Thomas, only another
Fifty years or so and then I promise
To let you go.
THOMAS. Do you see those roofs and spires?
There sleep hypocrisy, porcous pomposity, greed,
Lust, vulgarity, cruelty, trickery, sham
And all possible nitwittery — are you suggesting fifty
Years of that?
JENNET. I was only suggesting fifty
Years of me.
THOMAS. Girl, you haven't changed the world.
Glimmer as you will, the world's not changed.
I love you, but the world's not changed. Perhaps
I could draw you up over my eyes for a time
But the world sickens me still.
JENNET. And do you think
Your gesture of death is going to change it? Except
THOMAS. Oh, the unholy mantrap of love!
JENNET. I have put on my own gown again,
But otherwise everything that is familiar,
My house, my poodle, peacock, and possessions,
I have to leave. The world is looking frozen
And forbidding under the moon; but I must be
Out of this town before daylight comes, and somewhere,
Who knows where, begin again.
So you fall back on the darkness to defeat me.
You gamble on the possibility
That I was well-brought-up. And, of course, you're right.
I have to see you home, though neither of us
Knows where on earth it is.
From Bimbos of the Death Sun to The Lady's Not for Burning in the space of a day. Yup, that's me.
>156 clamairy: so far, just more reading time. The Emir has directed that anyone over 55 is to be permitted to work from home, and I have been told by my general manager that it’s up to me. I would much prefer to stay in the office and that’s fine.
>92 pgmcc: I finally tried to watch The Farthest. Nope. Region-blocked. VPN is problematic here because they are supposed to be illegal (can't have people watching prộn, you know).
First read of my extended reading hours: Handel in London by Jane Glover. Not really a biography and we don't learn a lot about Handel the man. Born in Halle in (now) Germany, in 1685, first arrived in London in 1710, by which time he had already had a pretty decent musical career in Germany and Italy. But he came to London and stayed. The book is basically a summary and description of the huge amount of music he wrote in London and his effect on the musical life of the city. It's probably best read with a well-filled case of CDs handy so you can follow the comments on each work; most of the description is of opera and oratorio and the instrumental works don't get much airtime—the keyboard sonatas, which are my sanity music, are not even mentioned.
Not sure how I'd rate this book. I approve of the idea of a celebration of Handel's music, and as a celebration it's excellent. On the other hand, 388 pages of how brilliant this or that aria is gets rather repetitive even though I'm quite convinced that Handel wrote very few duds. I dip into the operas from time to time (there are a lot of them and most of them are rarely performed or recorded now) but my goodness there is some wonderful music in them. But I keep coming back to Messiah.
Aaaaannnnd I am now to be working from home (that is, from an apartment full of books). Not thrilled initially but warming to the idea.
>160 haydninvienna: Been working in my library since Wednesday. Normally I log into the VPN on my MacBook in the sitting room, but as I'm going to be WFH for an indefinite period, I decided to clear off a table and set up properly with a decent-sized monitor and other peripherals.
Problems: the monitor is ancient and I got a headache. I ordered a new monitor last night. The A/V set-up sucks - I can't use the built-in microphone on Skype as it affects the audio quality, and there's no on-board camera that I can see. Webcams & headsets don't seem to be available at the moment - time for another search on Amazon.
Now Paul is working at home too - so we need to do more clearance so he has table space as well...
Perhaps we should so some pics!
I thought of E M Forster’s short story “The Machine Stops”, but I’m not sure I feel like reading it right now.
Make the best of what you have. If life gives you lemons, make, maybe not lemonade, but Moroccan preserved lemons. Since I won’t be wearing my office clothes for a while, and the dry cleaner in the basement is still open, I took an armful of suits etc down to them. Never have a better chance.
Cancelled my auto-renewing monthly phone passport, saving me QR300 (say £60 or $75) off my monthly phone bill.
Polished off Smallbone, Deceased in the course of yesterday afternoon. Murder set in a solicitor’s office in the City of London in about 1950. I took a BB on this from Limelite (https://www.librarything.com/topic/314914#7075741). It really is that good. As a former conveyancing solicitor myself, I loved the little technical details. I don’t know about Michael Gilbert’s other books though. Some of them strike me as a bit dark for present circumstances.
>164 haydninvienna: I had the same response to My Family: utterly charming and funny. I've heard good things about the adaptation, The Durrells.
Good luck on the telework!
Teleworking so far is a bust, because they haven't delivered my computer yet. Too bad, so sad. However, I've read some more of My Family ... (still laughing) and just for variety started reading The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman, which I bought in Prague of all places.
>162 haydninvienna: I just read that in the SF Hall of Fame novella series. Very apropos but not very uplifting even if Forster tries to tack on a "it all gets better" ending :-/
>167 BookstoogeLT: I read it many years ago, but I’m not at all sure I want to right now.
I just took a BB from Neil Gaiman! One of the little essays or articles inThe View from the Cheap Seats is about James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks, and on the strength of Neil’s description I’ve added it to the wish list.
Now finished (most of) The View from the Cheap Seats (I skipped the essays about music and Amanda Palmer). I bought this one mostly because of the very short introduction to Viriconium, but on reading it I find my opinion of Neil G has gone up significantly. The man can write. He seems to know or have known almost everybody, and liked nearly all of them. He has insightful and wise things to say about writing and lots of other things. Only problem with the book is that since most of the pieces were written to order as introductions or whatever, most of them are really too short. But that’s a minor quibble. Overall, I loved it, and it was just what I needed in these rather scary times.
Second day of working at home, and I actually did get a good deal of work done. Just a minute ago the radio was playing "Claire de Lune" by Debussy, appropriate for this clear (by Doha standards), quiet evening. By "radio", I mean KUSC from Los Angeles. All the presenters are working from their home studios. Earlier today I copped the last movement of my mate Haydn's 104th symphony. He wrote it in 1795, so he would have been 63. What a year! Wars all over the place in Europe, but no trace of any of that, nor old age, in the symphony. It's downright jubilant.
>164 haydninvienna: That sounds like the perfect read for these strange days!
>164 haydninvienna: >171 Sakerfalcon: I read a bit more of it this evening. There have been several comments in this thread and others about how funny the books are but I don’t recall any about how good the writing is, and how beautifully precise the observation. There’s even a kind of poetry, as for example when he muses that to a trapdoor spider in its burrow, a snail going overhead must sound like sticking-plaster being slowly torn off.
I also read a bit of Viriconium, but under current circumstances this gets uncomfortable. Much better to stick to Gerald Durrell.
Trapped in apartment full of books!
I hope there are also good things to eat and drink.
>173 clamairy: Thank you for that bit of practical concern, Clam! I manage.
I notice quite a few posts in Talk along the lines that people need to read light and fluffy stuff in these times. I agree. This morning I downloaded Terminal Uprising, which came recommended by several people here. It’s about as fluffy as space opera gets (ETA except for Space Captain Smith). I enjoyed it.
A bit of family news. Son who Cooks had yet another disagreement with a chef a few weeks ago but quickly found a gig with a mate who runs a food truck. When the lockdown hit Canberra, all the food courts and all the chain fast food places closed. However, the Bus can still trade because it serves food and has no seating—it's actually a converted bus parked in a local park. And of course it's the only place open late in the evening. Probably also helps that the place is something of a local institution (Google "Mandalay Bus Canberra" for the story). Having eaten there myself, I affirm that the food is a cut above the usual takeaway standard. So the Bus is doing quite nicely and (fingers crossed) Son who Cooks still has work.
>176 haydninvienna: That is a bit of good news amongst this chaos.
How is your daughter that visited briefly on LT?
>176 haydninvienna: Agreed with Pete on both points. I suspect the chef didn't intend anything good for Son Who Cooks, which makes Son's "victory" all the sweeter.
>177 pgmcc: >178 hfglen: thanks gentlemen. As far as I know, TokenGingerKid is fine. Not working (she works in the Moss Bros store in Cardiff), but so far so good. And just to round out the set, since I have now mentioned 3 out of 4 of my offspring in threads today, Laura is also fine, although again not actually working.
I’ve been seeing quite a few comments on LT recently that people can handle only the fluffiest reading. I’ve just taken that to its logical end by reading The Downhill Crocodile Whizz by Margaret Mahy. This is a collection of funny stories for kids. I rate “The Girl With The Green Ear” as one of the funniest little bits of inspired silliness ever.
My birthday is this week. It isn’t going to equal the last one, which I spent photographing elephants in Chobe National Park in Botswana. This time there will be no human nor animal company and the best I can do for a celebration will be whatever the take-aways or Carrefour can provide. However, I’m well aware that I’m getting it a lot easier than many people, and I don’t see that I have anything to complain about.
I got stuck into ordering books this morning, partly for birthday reasons and partly for belated Thingaversary purchases. Everything will go to Bicester though, so heaven only knows when I’ll see it. IKEA is allowing online orders here and will deliver, so I bought a couple more Billy bookcases, which were delivered this afternoon. Buy them and they will fill, indeed.
>180 haydninvienna: I hope you can enjoy your birthday under these strange circumstances. Have the best birthday you can have.
I understand one can buy books from Ikea these days.
>181 pgmcc: That’s how I see it. I’m comfortable, safe and well, and as such I’m better off than a lot of people. The assembly instructions for that book would be interesting.
>186 Bookmarque: The frog is absolutely gorgeous. Lovely pic!
>187 clamairy: I was deliberately a bit vague about the actual date, but in fact it’s next Tuesday (same as my mate Haydn). So not belated at all.
>189 NorthernStar: >190 hfglen: Thank you both!
After getting my new bookcases I did a bit of an inventory of what I have here. I can now say with some confidence that out of a current library of 1564 books, 716 are here. That lot almost exactly fills 4 Billy bookcases. There’s probably another 500 or so still in boxes in Bicester.
And to my own mild surprise, I picked up At the Existentialist Café while I was taking my inventory, and am now reading it and finding it fascinating.
>191 haydninvienna: I've heard good things about Bakewell's earlier book on Montaigne as well. I'll look forward to your review.
>192 libraryperilous: You might be waiting a while for a "proper" review, since I don't do reviews. I am even less competent to review this book than any other, since my philosophy credentials are non-existent. However, I can say that Sarah Bakewell managed to make existentialism interesting, and going by how she dealt with the lives of the main players I would guess that the book on Montaigne would be worth looking out for. She managed to make sympathetic characters out of not only de Beauvoir, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and Camus, but as one of the quoted reviews says, even managed to make "the horrible Heidegger" understandable (as a person, that is—I still have no idea about his philosophy) although still not likeable.
I was much interested in her description and discussion of the different ways that the main players dealt with the traumas of the mid-20th century. The four main French players all dealt with the War, the Nazi occupation and the subsequent threat of nuclear annihilation differently, and you pays your money and you takes your choice. It was at this point that I started to feel slightly sympathetic even for Heidegger, because as a former girlfriend of mine said during a time of personal crisis, until it happens to you you don't know what you would do. There's also some interesting stuff about the American connection, and in particular the black American connection, with Richard Wright and James Baldwin.
All in all, I enjoyed it far more than I expected. I vaguely remember reading a positive review somewhere a couple of years ago and bought it last year partly on the strength of that vague recollection and partly because of the fetching subtitle ("Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others"), and the purchase is now justified.
>193 haydninvienna: I picked up At The Existentialist Café last year and your comments are encouraging me to get to it soon.
In 2016 while in Boston visiting my daughter and her husband, I picked up Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar in the MIT Co-op shop; a book bullet from Meredy I believe. I have not gotten round to that either.
By coincidence, as I was tidying up a room in our house, I came across a book owned by one of my son's. It is entitled I Think, Therefore I Laugh. Of course I purloined it and added it to my TBR Mountain Range.
So, now I have three books on philosophy that promise to be intriguing and interesting, but I have not managed to read one page of any of them.
I foresee much amusement and befuddlement in my future when I do get to them.
Congratulations on the birthday! May there be many more, and delightful ones to come.
>194 pgmcc: I've not read either Plato and a Platypus ... or I Think ... but I see that the latter is by John Allen Paulos. I'm sure I've read at least one book by him and found it good, although I don't recognise any titles.
>195 MrsLee: Thanks MrsL.
Change of pace with this afternoon's reading: The City and the Stars by Arthur C Clarke. I'm not going to say anything about it except that I wish that the late Golden Age had always been as good as this.
ETA Next up: Monday Starts on Saturday by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.
So The Day is today. My birthday; Joseph Haydn's reputed birthday (not certainly the day he was born, but the day he was entered on the local church's baptismal register, which was usually done the day of the birth); and also J S Bach's birthday (if you compute according to the "new style" which wasn't introduced in his place of birth in Protestant Thuringia until after he was born). I got a very major buzz from discovering that I shared a birthday with Bach.
I am celebrating my birthday by goofing off from WFH a little; and I have one of Haydn's earlier symphonies on the radio. And by ordering yet another book, which I think is the single most expensive book I've ever bought (but hey, the pound is flat on its back at present): Thornton's Legislative Drafting. This turns out to be a "you and one other" book on LT, which is why I'm posting about it: the other member is lawbod. Go on, look and see who that is.
May your day be as wonderful as is possible, Richard.
Have some virtual cake!
>201 clamairy: Ohhhh! It would be a shame to cut such a lovely looking cake.
Finished Monday Starts on Saturday. Whatever I was expecting, this book wasn’t it. -pilgrim- described it as whimsy. I can see why, but that’s not how I’d describe it. Having said which, I don’t know how I would describe it, other than by saying that it kind of sucks you in: everything looks fairly normal for the first couple of pages, then there’s a few more pages where everything is weird, but the narrative voice keeps a perfectly straight face, so that that “weird” rapidly becomes the new normal and you accept it as such.
Fun book. Probably not for everyone though.
>209 haydninvienna: Thanks!
And since it's now a new quarter, and a new year of living and reading for me, a new thread seems appropriate.
>210 haydninvienna: Didn't LT used to have an edible books competition? Anyone else remember that?
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