I absolutely L O V E IT but I’m not sure if she is trying to tell me that I need a … doctor or a hairdresser!
Way, way back in the Middle Ages, before marriage, children and all that, I was an au pair. I know what you are thinking, but as you can see from the pic in my profile, as well as not being Swedish, I am definitely not blonde. I lived for a while in Geneva, Switzerland with an Indian Muslim family but that, as they say, is another story. What I am getting around to telling you is that when you are away from home and homeland, you pine for certain things. I’m a lover, not hater of Marmite, so that was near the top of the list. Strange though it may seem, living in the land of cuckoo clocks, cheese and creamy Swiss chocolat, I missed a nice strong Cheddar cheese and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate, oh yes, and English books.
If you can remember back to the beginning of my ramblings you will have noted that I lived in Geneva. It was really quite difficult to find a genuine Swiss person where I lived close the UN, the ILO, GATT and all those other acronyms. Diplomats from around the globe huddled together in international enclaves and the working people of Geneva provided this elite with their every need. A brief stroll away there was a tabac that did a roaring trade in The Daily Telegraph, International Herald Tribune and ENGLISH BOOKS!!!!
Bear in mind that this was the mid to late 70s and Mr Waterstone probably hadn’t even been born, or was still in short trousers, so there wasn’t a three-for-two deal to be seen or the delight of a rummage in a Book Barn. Instead there was one tall twirly rack outside the tabac so my selection of English reading was predetermined. On one occasion my withdrawal systems were so severe that I decided to part with a large proportion of my miserable monthly francs. Foreign books in the town with the second highest cost of living in the world didn’t come cheap but sometimes a biblioholic has to buy what a biblioholic has to buy. An orange spine and the penguin seal of approval suggested a reasonably safe choice so I skipped home with MY NAME IS ASHER LEV by Chaim Potok. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. As I said, “some of my best
friends books are Jewish”.
A touch of deja vu? Through the door just before six. Slim puffy white envelope lying on the floor. Ripping of aforementioned envelope reveals COSMETIQUE DE L’ENNEMI par Amelie Nothomb.
At one hundred and twenty pages this again is a very light read, so why haven’t I finished it yet? Well this book hasn’t yet been translated into English and so I am reading it in the version originale, in FRENCH!!! Mon Dieu!
So, I’m sure you will excuse me for only getting as far as page 30. As well as physically taking me longer to read it also requires the brain to work much harder and it is not as easy to filter out the normal sounds of family living. I could have carried on reading all night but it was the final episode of “Desperate Housewives” and I signed on the dotted line weeks ago to promise that I would watch every episode with the youngest offspring, snuggled up on the sofa together.
I’m not sure if I will try to read any pages on the train this morning. It could be disastrous. If I became too engrossed I could miss my station and find myself up in London with the grown-ups!
Who cares if the family starve? Not me.
I walked through the front door just before 6pm. Waiting on the doormat was one of those puffy white envelopes ….. containing another book by Ms Northomb. Just one hundred and seven pages of irresistable, un-put-downable reading. Thankfully for the health and welfare of my family by 7.10 I had finished reading ANTICHRISTA. How can a non-entity become more of a non-entity? How can those who should love and value you more than anyone else turn instead to someone else? What can be more painful than being sixteen and having no friends. Read ANTICHRISTA to find out.
I’d like to pretend that it was my intellectual side that made me suggest to the youngest offspring that we hop on a train up to London town and visit part of the LONDON ARCHITECTURE BIENNALE. However, I must come clean and confess that it was actually the lure of sheep, in this case, Herdwick sheep from Cumbria and …….. knitting.
The two young architects shown knitting are JENNY WYNESS & ERICA CALOGERO, part of the team that envisaged and realised this project. More information can be found at
http://www.knittingsite.org/ and from firstname.lastname@example.org
They are keen to cooperate with other groups and maybe even more into crochet as well. I asked their permission to put their photos on here (something we should all remember to do).
since I read a whole book in one day. It’s not quite 3pm and I’ve just finished page 126 of THE BOOK OF PROPER NAMES
The book had something in common with both THE ILLUSTRATED MUM by Jacqueline Wilson and THE TRAVELLING HORNPLAYER by Barbara Trapido. I can’t really explain, that something in common is intangible, just a feeling or a flavour. Delight tinged with sadness. Fantasy / tragedy. You’ll just have to read all three to see if you agree with me.
And finally a brain teaser, along the lines of those posed in the “Round Britain Quiz” that used to be broadcast on Radio 4 and probably on the “Home Programme” before that:
What is the connection between writers Amelie Nothomb & John Steinbeck? I warn you, it’s a very tentative link because as anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a devious character.
He never even knocks once so I just have to be alert for thudding noises or, more often than not, wait till I get home from work and hope that any packages left on my doorstep don’t decide to wander off with a passerby.
I digress…. this morning THE BOOK OF PROPER NAMES by Amelie Northomb arrived. You know some rich and famous people have personal shoppers, well I have something better than that … I have a personal book advisor. She is DOVEGREYREADER who works her subliminal charms upon me. Years ago I always had my head in a book, or two, or three but now whether it is the pressure of work, family life, old age, the call of fibre or my addiction to online groups and blogs I hardly seem to read at all. When I do read, however, it is quite often something that DGR has floated into my brain. She is responsible for my current book THE AWAKENING by Kate Chopin and of course my decision to dip my toe into the waters of Amelie Nothomb. Not that it is all one-sided. I do credit myself with introducing her to the delights of the American Jewish author, Chaim Potok and if anyone reading this has not encountered him then I urge you to seek him out soon.
Meanwhile, back with Mlle Nothomb’s book. I couldn’t resist starting and I have already read 3 pages. It is such a slim volume and so easy to read that I suspect I may allow Ms Chopin’s book to slumber a while till THE BOOK OF PROPER NAMES (originally published in French as ROBERT DES NOMS PROPRES) is devoured.
In an interview,in French, Amelie Northumb says “Je pense que si je peux amener les gens à lire, c’est la plus belle mission que je pourrais avoir sur terre.” Loosely translated: I think that if I am able to lead people to reading then it is the best thing that I can do on this earth.