Left and middle are how I used to look and now I look like the pic on the right. I couldn’t believe how much hair was on the floor after the cut. I decided that as I always scrag my hair right up off my neck all the time that I might as well have it chopped off. I’m not convinced about the visual results yet but it certainly feels good.


All NEIL to the winner of the 2009 Newbery Medal

Here and on other blogs there has been talk of favourite books from childhood so it seems appropriate to mention news about a children’s book published last year that should surely be well-remembered years from now.

The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year. According to my calculations this is the 87th year it has been awarded and I am delighted to say that I have read this year’s winning book, “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean. You can see it here at the bottom of a pile of new children’s books. I read both TGB and Chris Priestley’s two Tales of Terror books while on holiday in Cornwall in September. Whilst the Terror books were enjoyable enough I was well aware that I was reading a children’s book. Neil Gaiman’s book was diferent. I think I was a child again or at least suspended any adult thought that I should be reading a “good” well-written book and was totally immersed. I couldn’t put the book down and I lived the experiences with the characters.


My edition of “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaimanis published by Bloomsbury and is a joy to behold and hold even before starting to read.


The exciting news is that a film is to be made of the book directed by Neil Jordan. Jordan directed “The Company of Wolves” which was based on short stories by Angela Carter in her collection “The Bloody Chamber”. She also wrote the screenplay for the film. When my daughter was about 7 or 8 her favourite animals were wolves and I somehow allowed her to see the film “The Company of Wolves” before I had viewed it myself. It’s amazing that someone didn’t inform social services and have her taken away from me! Neil Jordan has directed other films including “The End of the Affair”, “The Crying Game” and “Interview with the Vampire” but I don’t think that I have seen any of those.

Here’s the trailer from The COMPANY of WOLVES

and The END of the AFFAIR

I seem to have digressed from my original subject, Neil Gaiman and “The Graveyard Book” which tells o the life of a young child who has been brought up in the parallel world that exists in the graveyard, Once you accept the central premise of the book you are swept along with events. I can’t wait to see what Neil Jordan does with the book and it will interesting to see how the casting dice are thrown.

Puffins on Parade

I thought I’d share a glimpse of some of my old puffins with you. Here they are – enjoy!
The extremely well-loved one 4th from the right on the top shelve is “The Grove of Green Holly” by Barbara Willard. The most-battered on the lower shelf is “The Wardens Niece” by Gillian Avery.childrens-books-1


I found a piece about Barbara Willard that you may like to read: “The Pleasure of Her Company – Remembering Barbara Willard” by Lance Salway.

Finished reading, started reading

two-caravansA few days ago I finished reading “Two Caravans” by Marina Lewycka. For some reason I keep calling it “two tractors” even though when I say the words I see a caravan. All the quotes about this book use words like funny, hilarious, humour yet that’s not what remains with me. This is a sad book that lets us see into the world of those who work for below the minimum wage often with anything that they are have been told they will earn being taken for “expenses”. Now I am swinging things in the opposite direction from the hilarious and that again is mis;eading because this is a very enjoyable read and yet it causes me to spare a thought for things that if I am honest I would rather not hear about. I would prefer to be safely tucked up in my comfortable home, rather like  one of the minor characters, worrying abut what sort of vegetarian I should be or what colour my kitchen should be, than what two or three items I can purchase with the very little money I have. If I buy an own brand “basic” loaf, and margarine will I still have enough to buy a tin of pilchards which I have been advised is one of the cheapest forms of protein. Is it ethical to steal carrots from a field to ensue that I take in some fresh food? We have all seen clips of battery chickens on TV but somehow seeing those places through the eyes of a migrant worker and learning what he has to do to earn his meagre wage and “see” his ghastly living conditions in my imagination had a much greater effect on me.

sassafra-cypress-indigo1Then sticking to my resolution to read books I already have, I picked up “Sassafras, Cypress & Indigo” by Ntozake Shange.  This is the story of three sisters from Charleston, South Carolina. So far I can see that Ntozake Shange shares at least some experiences with one of the girls.

The Enjoyable Reading of Brian Moore

What do you do when you go on holiday? Go to the library of course, especially if you are tempted in by a notice saying, “BOOKS FOR SALE”. Two hours later you scrape yourself off the floor of that municipal building and pay up for a stretched armful of books that you can’t possibly leave to be unloved.

And so it was that I acquired my first Brian Moore. It was a very slim volume, its purple, plastic-protected jacket faded to mauve: “Catholics”.

The book begins:

The fog lifted. The island was there. The visitor walked to the end of the disused pier and saw it across three miles of ocean, riding the sea like an overturned fishing-boat. morning sunlight moved along a keel of mountain, above valleys black as tarred boatsides. He thought of Rome. Surprisingly the Order itself had little descriptive information. In the Lungoterre Vaticano he had been handed an out-of-print book: Weir’s Guide to Religious Monuments.

Though I picked the book up in the library in Padstow, Cornwall, the beginning of this short novel reminded me of the first time I had travelled to Caldey Island, off Tenby, South Wales to stay at the guesthouse of the Cistercian (Trappist) Caldey Abbey.

So if you have never read any Brian Moore, or indeed visited a monastery, then Catholics would seem a good place to begin.

Now I know that I have promised not to buy any books but after I have shepherded my Brian Moore’s together, I will make a list of those I need to look out for, and I will carry it with me, because if you see a book that you know you need then you have to buy it. don’t you.

Meanwhile, in preparation for my Moore hunt, I will share my list of books with you. Brian Moore also wrote as Michael Bryan and Bernard Mara but I’m not sure if I will start on those just yet.

BRIAN MOORE 1921-1999

“his books often have a religious motif, without religious intent”

“‘every tale should tell itself’. Story is everything… the writers we remember were dedicated story-tellers.”

Wreath for a Redhead ( in US “Sailor’s Leave”) 1951 writing as Michael Bryan
The Executioners 1951 writing as Michael Bryan
French for Murder 1954 writing as Bernard Mara
A Bullet for My Lady 1955 writing as Bernard Mara
Judith Hearne 1955 read & seen film
This Gun for Gloria 1956 writing as Bernard Mara
Intent to Kill 1956 writing as Michael Bryan
The Feast of Lupercal 1957
Murder in Majorca 1957 writing as as Michael Bryan
The Luck of Ginger Coffey 1960
An Answer from Limbo 1962
Canada 1965
The Emperor of Ice Cream 1965
I Am Mary Dunne 1968
Fergus 1970
The Revolution Script 1971
Catholics 1972 read
The Great Victorian Collection 1975 read
The Doctor’s Wife 1976 have ? but not read yet
Two Stories 1978
The Mangan Inheritance 1979
The Temptation of Eileen Hughes 1981
Cold Heaven 1983
Black Robe 1985 read
The Color of Blood 1987 read
Lies of Silence 1990 read
No Other Life 1993 read
The Statement 1995 think I’ve read
The Magician’s Wife 1997 have but not read

The Last of London

So here’s the last instalment of pics from my day out in “Big Grownup London,” as the childen used to say.

We emerged from watching the light installations in the subways around the IMAX cinema and started to walk across Waterloo Bridge

dsc07233from Waterloo Bridge, looking left


from Waterloo Bridge, looking right towards Blackfriar’s Bridge & St Paul’s Cathedral

dsc07235almost at the far (North) side of Waterloo Bridge, we look down to see our destination, Somerset House


after our visit to the Terrace Rooms, Somerest House to see Richard Bryant’s “Greater London” exhibition

we stood on the terrace and looked across at the House of Parliament, rising out of the cold January sky

dsc07238Northwards and slightly east and we found ourselves in Covent Garden where I looked down & spotted these colourful tables &  chairs

dsc07239Don’t forget to look up when you walk around town – you never know what you might see

I do hope the floor inside this inter-building covered walkway/ pedestrian bridge is more level than it looks

dsc07255There’s “Richard Bryant’s London” in the window of Hatchards, elbowing Diana (Mitford) Mosley’s “Pursuit of Laughter” out of view

dsc07254some more colourful changing lights as people began to head for home

dsc07253darkness began to fall and I made my way to Green Park, Vauxhall and eventually home.

Underneath the IMAX

The subways round the IMAX cinema have been treated as a lighting installation. The lights change gradually from one colour to the next. if you look at the green image below you can see that it has just started the red sequence. Very slowly,  bulb by bulb, the lights will switch from green to red until the whole subway is glowing red. It was fascinating to watch but still had that creepy feeling that seems to emanate from subways and underpasses.




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