Thursday, July 28, 2005

Sunday walk

Sunday walk is becoming a bit of a feature of the Laytown weekend. This week, Barbara and Caelen and Denali joined us for a bit of being blown around by a strong wind and pancaked afterwards.
Posted Jul. 26 2005, at 10:07 PM
Original comments
Denali's getting big isn't she!!
Posted by Queenie on Jul. 28 2005

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

34: No one can say no to the bastard

Possibly the worst tag line I've ever seen for a book. Certainly the worst cover I've seen on a book in ages (I realise that a scan would have brought out its awful seventiesness much more effectively than a crappy photo of the cover, but I can't be arsed going all the way upstairs to the scanner). If I was Beryl Bainbridge I'd have sued someone. Maybe she did.

The book itself is slight enough and is of the type that Bainbridge seems to have given up, which is just as well because the itroverted girl who gets taken for a ride by the bastard man of the world was done best in An Awfully Big Adventure, and thankfully it's kind of old and not very believable (maybe I'm just lucky and know strong women).

More interesting is the period detail. The family huddled around in a small dining room at Christmas, the mother constantly rubbing the backs of the chair legs to make sure the electric fire isn't scorching them, everyone trying not to trip over the cord on the electric carving knife, that kind of thing. I'm glad Beryl Bainbridge has moved on to the crisp history of According to Queenie or Master Georgie, but even a second division Bainbridge like Sweet William was worth the few hours it took to read it.

Original comments
Is that Sam Waterston and Jenny Agutter on the cover? That could be worth something.
Posted by StevieB on Jul. 28 2005, at 4:19 PM

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

33: it's family, innit?

Nadine Gordimer's The Pickup is billed on the back as a Romeo and Juliet story for a more cynical age. More cynical than an age where women were married off at the age of thirteen to improve their family's social standing? Really? Never mind that though. This isn't really a love story, is, I think, what that reviewer means. It's a story of two people using each other for the sake of convenience. In his case to get a residency visa for South Africa. In her case to get some cachet. Either way, they both get a lot more than they bargain for.

It's a book about politics and religion, sure. But it's also a story about families changing and adapting and being more than you thought they could be. Highly recommended. Doesn't outstay its welcome either.

Monday, July 18, 2005

32: Hey! Rome's full of rude Italians!

If you're looking for a book that will reinforce every stereotype you've ever read about any country in Europe, you've found it here. On the surface, Michael Booth's Just as Well I'm Leaving is an entertaining idea to part publishers and readers from their money. Hey, the high concept says, I'm going to follow Hans Christian Andersen's footsteps across Europe, tell you something about him on the way, and have a good laugh! So far, so standard proposal.

Andersen turns out to be a fascinating character. Crazy, gangly, unattractive, maybe gay, maybe not, certainly in love with the idea of doomed love, a brilliant writer, a man raging with insecurities, a virgin at his death, and so on.

Michael Booth is a bloke who thinks he's funny and isn't really. He even makes a lazy "...and that was just the teachers!" style joke somewhere in here that I can't be bothered to find. True, he does his research well and he cares about Andersen, but he ruins the most straightforward anecdotes with lame jokes, so a book that should be fascinating in its depiction of how much Europe (and the profession of writing, really) has changed becomes merely adequate and much too long.

And there are a lot of printing errors and a couple of factual mistakes in it, which really grinds my nads.
Posted Jul. 18 2005, at 5:10 PM

31: Cosy Moments

Aren't these Amazon scans really poor quality? If I wasn't using them without permission I'd be really pissed off.

Anyway, Psmith Journalist. Last year on ILB, some women admitted to having a bit of a crush on Psmith. I don't see it myself. Or it might just have been this book. I don't think Wodehouse is at his best when he tries to "do" Americans. I'm not sure he ever got the mannerisms quite right and I just am not sure he has the same feel for them as he does for his own social circle back home. So maybe the Psmith books that take place in England are better.

Heaving stomachers

How great is it that the words "heaving stomachers" brings up an ad for the Crohn's and Colitis foundation of America? Brilliant.

30: Interesting times

With a rustle of petticoats and a heaving of stomachers, here comes another Phillipa Gregory book. The Queen's Fool follows on from The Other Boleyn Girl, telling the story of Hannah, a young Jewish girl who has fled the Spanish Inquisition with her father and settled in England. She is begged for a holy fool because she has The Sight of some kind and ends up in the court of sickly young Edward VI and, after him, Queen Mary. The story of the intrigue and terror that gripped all of England at that time is well told and, as I said when reading her previous book, she manages to drum up sympathy for the unlikeliest of people, so you sort of feel sorry for Mary by the end. But only sort of.

It's good to be reminded of how things were before Elizabeth's golden age, how restricted people were in what they could say and write about, how easily today's off-the-cuff remarks could become tomorrow's hanging offences, and how powerless minor courtiers and courtesans really were. It's more of the same stuff. Quality.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Record temperatures

According to the Met Office report at five to six this evening, temperatures tomorrow could reach record highs. The man at the train station in Laytown said that might be a problem. He checked the temperature of the rails today and it was thirty degrees. Apparently if the temperature goes above thirty degrees...

At this point he made some twisty turny movement with his hands and made a kind of 'cccchhhhhh' noise, which I think was supposed to indicate that it would be hard to keep the trains on the rails.

Bloody great. Of course I'll be able to get into work, but not home again.
Posted Jul. 11 2005, at 10:01 PM

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Broil King

Man Make Fire!

It's beer o'clock!

Man, it's hot here in Laytown today. People were even swimming in the sea. Good times.
Posted Jul. 10 2005, at 5:34 PM
Original comments
Today was melty all right. We went out to Dun Laoghaire with the folks. Top market in the park action.
Posted by Ray on Jul. 10 2005, at 9:31 PM

Thursday, July 07, 2005

To conclude with a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody in full chorus

I can't believe I've posted nothing for nearly a month. And that I'd get the urge to post today, of all days, with all the shit that's going on in London. I suppose it's the urge to do something combined with the lack of ability to do anything useful. It's probably also that fear for family's safety followed by relief at safety of family.

Anyway, last Sunday marked the birthday of our matriarch and we had a huge party. It was top fun. These are the only photos I took, though.
Original comments
Hmmm, what's that I see on the wall in the background of photo 2?
Posted by Ray on Jul. 07 2005, at 2:49 PM
How come Keith never wears that shirt to work?
Posted by Dave on Jul. 07 2005, at 3:13 PM
Ray: Ickle baby Byrnes!

Dave: Because that shirt still hangs in the "goodwear" section of the wardrobe. Next Christmas, when he gets a new shirt, it will be relegated.
Posted by perfectlycromulent on Jul. 07 2005, at 3:23 PM
On further inspection of the group photo, it's funny how Keith is inspecting his feet as people do during the second verse of hymns or during the national anthem. Even after four years in this family, HE DOES NOT KNOW THE WORDS!
Posted by perfectlycromulent on Jul. 07 2005, at 3:25 PM
Oh I know the words all right. I just don't think it would be politic to tell the in laws that I don't really like Queen.
Posted by watchdog on Jul. 10 2005, at 7:36 PM
They're not in-laws yet, and if there are any more revelations like that...
Posted by Ray on Jul. 10 2005, at 9:29 PM