Monday, December 21, 2009

Out and about in London and Guildford

My desk is looking a bit clearer, so a quick run through of my activities. Going back a couple of weeks, I spent a long day in London, leaving the OM to look after himself. Since he can’t cook, this involved instructions to go the pub a mile away for an evening meal. I went with Irene at midday to the Indian embassy to pick up her papers for a trip to India, and we met up with Jennifer later. We had a meal very close by and then went to see Der Rosenkavalier at Covent Garden, my second visit in quite a short time. Once again I was impressed with the sheer magnificence of the place; we were very high up, and I used my new temporary glasses, and didn’t suffer from double vision, as I had on the previous occasion. We didn’t leave London until about 11.00 o’clock.

Later in that week, and in the following week, we stationed ourselves at the Guildford Institute to sell books, and also at the Christmas Fair at Farnham Maltings. The first day, we took a bus into Guildford from the Park & Ride, and this worked well, apart from Irene tripping over her feet and landing on the ground, while I was queuing to get on. As this took place behind me, I was unaware of her fall, until she told me, but all the other passengers viewed it, and must have thought me an unhelpful sort of friend.

Jennifer and her other half came to dinner with Irene on Saturday night, in spite of the freezing weather. The house was lovely and warm. There are distinct advantages to having a chicken in the oven for two and a half hours.

The last reading circle meeting was also a bit of a party, with everyone taking some small items of refreshment, and our hostess providing a buffet of delicacies. We discussed William Boyd’s Restless. For some reason, I started the ball rolling, and was possibly a little over-critical. When other people have given their opinion on a book, I am inclined to listen and moderate my own views. Because I started, I launched into my critique, which was mainly influenced by my antipathy for the two women main characters.

It was a reasonably interesting story, but marred by these characters, with whom I could not really empathise. This book is another timeslip novel, set in the 1970s and the 1940s. Ruth gets vaguely involved with some half hearted protestors, while her mother in the 1940s is a spy in an organisation which creates propaganda for use in the second world war. The two stories come together by virtue of Eva revealing all to her daughter, in order to get her, Ruth, to help find Eva’s spymaster.

If anything, I felt more sympathy and interest in Eva as a young woman than Ruth the contemporary heroine (at least, contemporary in the 1970s – which does not feel like history to me.) However, both of them were rather cold in my view, and perhaps this reflects the way that spy stories are meant to be written – in a cold, detached, cynical way. If so, it means that I would be better avoiding spy stories.

Since our Guildford trip, I see that the last copy of Tainted Tree has gone from Waterstone’s in the High Street, so perhaps my article in Family Tree Magazine had an effect.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tainted Tree takes an early bath?

We’ve had more torrential rain this week; my trip to Sainsbury’s, yesterday, took me through mini rivers and my car, given a clean up during its service last week, is once again muddied up. This weather and the floods which have occurred in different parts of the country, notably, Cumbria, certainly do not seem typical of November weather and give me uncomfortable reminders of one of the ‘end of the world’ films I saw many years ago – possibly The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Flowers too, don’t seem to know whether it’s summer or winter. We still have the last vestiges of summer flowers – a yellow bloom on the hypericum, which started flowering in August; a few faded geraniums and - until the frost of a few days ago, some blossoms on the fuchsias. To counter that, we have some early polyanthus and a mahonia also sporting yellow flowers.

Guildford is making its own contribution to saving the planet. I will not mock; our small endeavours may well be beneficial when carried out by many people. We now have a giant wheelie bin for our non-recyclable rubbish; a purple bag each week for tins/bottles and paper – to be recycled. (Others in more accessible houses have two separate containers, but the big recycling vehicles don’t like coming down our lane, so we’re on another system.) We also have a kitchen caddy for left-over cooked and raw food and peelings, etc. and an outside food waste bin, to be collected and composted. The new system started at the beginning of November, but there have been teething problems and ours have only just been solved.

This week has been quiet and I’ve been able to do some catching up. Next week will be very busy, not least because Irene and I will be at the Guildford Institute, selling our books, on Thursday and Friday, as well as going to the opera on Monday. December brought a copy of Family Tree Magazine with my article on Tainted Tree in it, as well as the latest edition of Writers News, also featuring a piece on my writing. But bad news at the library – one of my books has completely disappeared from the Surrey Library system, and the librarian at Godalming was unable to tell me where it had gone. If someone had dropped it in the bath, she told me, it would be removed from the system. Let's hope a similar fate doesn't await my other copies.