Currently on 180.

Edit: and now he's made 200. In spite of this, the BBC blog is running a 'things more interesting than this match' tweet-in.
Charles Lamb, photo from The Guardian

I’m very bad at the sort of discursive, rambling writing such a post demands; it’s just not my style. But here goes. My reading lately has been rather sporadic and ‘June Books’ didn’t appear at all. Cricket hasn’t helped. When you don’t want to miss a ball on Test Match Special you need to be doing something compatible with listening and with shouting, ‘Slide, Ben Stokes, slide!’ or ‘Cor blimey, what a shambles!’. I wonder if the neighbours can hear me. These are the books I read in June, four of which did get reviewed.

The Rhyme of the Magpie, Marty Wingate
My Life in Houses, Margaret Forster
Capital Murders, ed. Martin Edwards
A Man of Some Repute, Elizabeth Edmondson
The American Lady (Glassblower Trilogy Book Two), Petra Durst-Benning and Samuel Willcocks.
The Dungeon House, Martin Edwards
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer.

I borrowed Margaret Forster’s book from the library but found I’m more interested in reading about houses than I am in reading about Margaret Forster living in them. Over the years I’ve read many of her novels but, I don’t know why it is, whenever I’ve read anything autobiographical, I’ve found it impossible to warm to her. The American Lady was disappointing after the first Glassblower book; far too much of it was unbelievable. Nevertheless, it ends on such a cliffhanger that I’ll almost certainly read the third book just to find out what happens.

I re-read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society when I was looking for a ‘nice’ comforting sort of book. It fitted the bill and led me on to
something else )

May books

Jun. 1st, 2015 11:11 am

A short list this month, due to preoccupations with thatching, Test matches, Chelsea Flower Show, thatching …

Sweet Tooth Ian McEwan
The Rose Girls , Victoria Connelly
Crooked Heart , Lissa Evans
The Strangling on the Stage, Simon Brett
Worst. Person. Ever., Douglas Coupland
Here Comes a Chopper, Gladys Mitchell
The Mummy Case, Elizabeth Peters
The Quality of Silence , Rosamund Lupton
Almost English, Charlotte Mandelsen
a few thoughts )

This is Persephone Book 107 and I received my copy from the publisher. It’s unusual for Persephone to reprint a book first published in 1976, whose author is still alive. A little research showed that second hand copies are unaffordable so a reprint makes sense, especially as it’s a book about the effects of the First World War. I was casting around thinking of other books published around the same time. For example, in 1975 Martin Amis published Dead Babies, Malcolm Bradbury The History Man and David Lodge Changing Places. Julian Barnes and Ian McEwen had barely started their glittering careers. These are significant authors of the time. I mention this because the remarkable thing about Wilfred and Eileen is that it reads as if it had been written between the wars. Jonathan Smith was writing a book completely against all current trends, which as an English teacher he must have known. In his Afterword to this edition he mentions his admiration for Siegfried Sassoon’s prose works, especially Memoirs of an Infantry Officer and he has perhaps captured something of Sassoon’s tone in his own writing.

Wilfred and Eileen is a love story based on the lives of real people and it’s an inspiring tale. I was nearly put off the whole book in the first chapter by the tiresome undergraduate chatter of Wilfred and his friends at Trinity, Cambridge but it’s a necessary introduction because Wilfred and Eileen meet at the May Ball. Wilfred is fiercely ambitious, planning to be a famous surgeon. Eileen is rich, bored, and wanting something useful to do with her life. The two fall in love and marry secretly, as both families are against the union. Then comes the war and Wilfred enlists, to Eileen’s distress. He throws himself into military life with the same zeal he previously applied to his medical studies, all the time thinking of Eileen and exchanging letters with her. Then he is shot in the head.

Wilfred isn’t expected to recover but Eileen brings him back from France and gets him into the right hands. Even with the progress he makes, he will never be a doctor. Jonathan Smith says that he now sees the book as more Eileen’s story than Wilfred’s, and I can understand why. Wilfred’s courage and will power lead him to contemplate a different sort of life to the one he planned, but one that will still be worthwhile. He can only do this with Eileen’s help. She’s saved him once and now he will make the most of ‘the life she gave him’. It’s an extraordinary story told in a very matter of fact way.

In this centenary year there are many books out dealing with the First World War. I mentally compared this with the more recent My Dear I Wanted to Tell You which has a similar storyline. Both are well worth reading. I was careful not to read the press release, the Afterword or any reviews before starting Wilfred and Eileen and this made the book all the more surprising. If you look up Jonathan Smith, you find him an interesting person: an inspiring teacher (Dan Stevens was one of his pupils) and also the father of Ed Smith, the cricketer and TMS commentator. What a talented family!
After what has been a lacklustre fifth Test, Michael Clarke's declaration set up a nail biting finish with England chasing runs. England needed twenty one runs to win and looked like getting them, when the players were taken off for bad light. It's the rules. It's the ICC. It's not common sense. One minute you're on the edge of your seat and the next, flat as a pancake. Game over. I could have cried and I'm surprised the crowd didn't riot in frustration. This is England, though. Jonathan Agnew is very reasonably urging people not to blame Clarke or the umpires. Can the players really be feeling as accepting as they appeared in their interviews? They're so trained up to give sound bites you never know what they really think about anything.

BTW, wouldn't it have been nice for me to watch this last gripping day, using my new Sky NOW TV box? Two weeks on, I'm still waiting for the replacement remote and have just had an email saying it's on its way. Too late!

Tortoiseshell butterfly on the kitchen blind just now. I managed to persuade it to go outside again.

The first Test against New Zealand starts today! I’m very glad, as it will help me through a horrible day of noise and freezing cold while I have the kitchen door replaced. Coincidentally, I’m reading More than a Game by John Major. I absolutely loved the preface, in which John Major writes of his own life in cricket, famous cricketers he’s met and so on. He’s very good at anecdotes. After that, sadly, it becomes a book with John Major’s name on it. He credits a team of researchers, then makes the error of putting down everything he’s learned, as people do when writing a bad essay. So I’m skimming through pages of history (which I know anyway) in search of the nuggets which are actually about the history of cricket. The author’s love of the game shines through, which is what keeps me reading and the book is full of the kind of arcane facts which cricket fans like so much.
olden days )
Geoff Boycott at the end of the day:

"It was a thrilling day for England supporters, Pietersen came out and you knew it was going to be war, it's his arrogance and confidence against their fast bowlers, he's not going to back off, it's not his scene, and he played a fantastic innings, one of his best, it was the way he bristled he went after them, if you're a cricket lover and you didn't enjoy today there is something wrong with you."

I was glued to TMS while Michael Vaughan and Shaun Pollock waxed lyrical about Pietersen's 'impossible' shots. 'He's making Philander look like a club player'. 'He's playing the best bowler in the world (Steyn) as if he's lobbing tennis balls at him.' Then on came Henry Blofeld. 'an innings of sheer unmitigated genius'. Anyone who's been here today will never forget it etc. etc.

Devoted as I am to TMS, I would so love to have seen this while it was happening. Instead, I'd have to wait for the highlights on Cricket on 5, which started half an hour before play finished and is still recording now. How can they make a decent programme of it? Never, never, never will I forgive the cricketing authorities for selling out to the evil empire of Rupert Murdoch.

Olympics? Pah! Nothing could beat today's play for excitement.

I bought The Telegraph this morning, for the Chelsea Flower Show supplement. Top of the front page:
Geoffrey Boycott
Why England should whitewash West Indies

What were they thinking? All he says is that he expects a comfortable 3-0 win for England in the series. After complaining for months that there's nothing on television, I've been struggling to fit in the cricket and the Chelsea coverage. Must be summer.

RIP Dolly

Nov. 19th, 2011 10:38 am
The death was announced today of Basil D’Oliveira. The world has changed so much (on the whole for the better, IMO) that it’s sometimes hard to remember that within my own lifetime the UK still had capital punishment, homosexuality was illegal and a ‘coloured’ man was not allowed into South Africa to play cricket for England. For once in its history the English cricket authorities made the right decision and cancelled the tour. I have no time for the English players who later took part in ‘rebel tours’. It’s a pity D’Oliveira is best remembered for the 1968 furore because he was a lovely player and by all accounts a nice man. Telegraph obituary here.
Well done, chaps!
Am absolutely loving this Lords Test. One of the joys is the Indian commentary. I may be in love with Sunil Gavaskar.

I've been holding my breath as Pietersen approached his century and he's just done it! Hurrah, well deserved. I just wish I could watch it.

Ian Bell is my hero this season, though. What a lovely player.
I’ve just heard this story on Johnnie Walker-sitting-in-for-Terry Wogan. Ha ha ha!

Much as I enjoy the merry japes of Wogan and team I like Johnnie because he really loves the music he plays. He followed up the Dylan story with Like A Rolling Stone and shortly after played Waterloo Sunset, Turn, Turn, Turn and the theme from Test Match Special. For obvious reasons: Yay!!!
It could be a great match, on my home and therefore favourite ground and just look what tickets are going for on eBay!

The Duckworth Lewis Method is suddenly very popular but why is Meeting Mr Miandad the only song from the album being played on the radio? I've only had two brief music radio sessions today and each time heard that song. I suppose they can't play Jiggery Pokery but I like Gentlemen and Players a lot and am getting fond of Mason on the Boundary.

I must away and charge up the radio so that I needn't be parted from it tomorrow...

I love the sound of a cricket crowd at the end of the day! Hope Matt & Freddie don't go mad...this is hot stuff.
Bopara, that is.

Over on The Fidra Blog last week Vanessa was praising One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson, a novel set in Edinburgh. By coincidence, that very day I had picked up a copy of Case Histories, set in Cambridge. Like most people who've read it I loved Behind the Scenes at the Museum but after that I just didn't keep up with Kate Atkinson and this is the first book of hers I've read since that huge success. My mistake was to start reading it in bed because, trust me, once you start this book you don't want to stop. It begins unusually for a mystery in that all the circumstances of the three cases are set out in the first three chapters. After Chapter One, you know what the outcome of the next two is likely to be and read on, wincing in advance. Three disappearances or deaths which apparently will turn out to be linked. So far in my reading the link is the investigations of Jackson Brodie, ex-copper and now private investigator with a predictably troubled private life and a welcome sense of humour. This is a real page turner.

In other news, an afternoon of weeding toil (it was not warm!) has left me with an aching back. When I came indoors I switched on the cricket commentary and shortly afterwards it was all over. What a let down.
That's it.
Hurrah, England have beaten Pakistan. Here's some interesting facts about English cricket.
Read more... )



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