This week…

I have been mostly:

Finding out… more about being INTJ. I’ve done various personality type questionnaires for employers over the years and I am officially: INTJ, High Red, or Blue depending on which methodology you prefer. They mostly all amount to the same thing but because lockdown has surprised even me with my near total lack of need for face to face engagement with Other People, I’ve been digging into the introvert stuff a bit more. So, yeah. All of it. This is totally helping me understand why some people claim to be introverts and then, after a mere day or two of their own company, are galloping off to be sociable. Amateurs. It’s also helping me understand why I feel like it’s so rare I meet people who are like me, and that’s because INTJ women are around 0.5% of the world’s population and therefore 99.5% of the world is fucking weird. Well, that’s how I read it.

Listening to… Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson. Which is Book 4 in the Walt Longmire series. I have the impression it’s a bit of a disjointed narrative, but that’s down to me listening to it before I go to sleep and missing bits. I’m getting slightly impatient with Walt’s lack of communication with Vick, but hey, if Evanovich can spin out the Steph/Ranger thing over a gazillion books in which he mostly rocks up and just says ‘Babe’, anything is possible.

Eating… randomly. I hate the grocery store and only shop every 2 weeks, so supplies were running low. I totally ran out of chocolate biscuits, for example, and had to cold turkey through the 9.30-10.30 biscuit slot in my working day. But I made stuffed peppers last night and have leftovers tonight, and then later I’m making blueberry cinnamon breakfasty things.

Watching… Fred Astaire movies. The BBC has a few available, and I’ve been watching them in bits at lunchtime. Every, single line is perfect when he dances and it makes me realise that even the professionals on Strictly can’t get close.

Reading… don’t remember. Anything? The problem is that I re-read my Ava Lee novels (Ian Hamilton) last weekend, then ordered the next two, but the fourth one has arrived before the third. And the next Ava Lee is what I want to read, so I’m just waiting. If you don’t know, Ava Lee is a Chinese-Canadian accountant who specialises in getting back vast amounts of people’s lost money, usually when it’s been lost in some kind of dodgy way. She is smart and pragmatically kick ass. Oh yes, I remember, I finished The Left Hand of Darkness, LeGuin is a genius, end of discussion. And I dipped into The Mabinogi (beautifully done by Faber poetry) and also into the second vol of Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy for a bit of night time re-reading.

Wishing… that I did all my laundry when it was still sunny. Did I forget what country I live in? Oh, the irony of getting mint and lemonade in my grocery collection in order to make Pimms, when I spent today under a blanket. As it’s currently set to be wet or humid or both for the next 10 days, I dug out the electric dryer again. England at near mid-summer everyone, smelly laundry and wet cats.

Reading roundup

Let’s see if I can remember what I read recently. The bookshelves are all full, so recently read books disappear wherever I can cram them into the shelves and I haven’t been keeping proper track.

Invisible Women  – Caroline Criado Perez. Won various prizes last year, including from the FT. The main thesis is that women are comprehensively overlooked in all sorts of significant ways, from designing transport systems to basic health care, because of an historic, current and probably depressingly eternal lack of data. In effect, by stupidly deciding not to be men, women make data gathering too hard! Sooooo complex! It’s nooooot faiiiirrrrr, why are you so different and weird and icky? So the mens go on deciding not to bother, and thus creating data structures that handily reinforce their existing worldview and incidentally, kill women. Nice. Obvs any women who call this out get ignored, threatened, fired, or murdered.

All women should read this, and then let’s smash the patriarchy and menstruate on its shattered bones.

Magpie Lane – Lucy Atkins. No word of a lie, I got this because it’s set in Oxford and I know where Magpie Lane is and it used to be called Grope Cunt Lane. Well, it probably didn’t have a properly capitalised street sign but that’s what it was known as. I do love old place names that tell it how it is. Anyway, this is a mystery with my old fave, the unreliable narrator. She is called Dee, and she goes to be a nanny to the neglected daughter of a media mogul-turned-head-of -Oxford-college and his very un-Oxford Danish wife. The daughter has selective mutism and an interest in animal bones.

Clearly loads to play with there. Whose fault is it when the daughter disappears? That bit is actually no real surprise at all, but it’s interesting parsing the narrative for how unreliable you think Dee really is versus how much she’s reframing to present herself in the best light.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte. The National Theatre is streaming weekly plays at the moment, so I watched Jane Eyre. Didn’t love it, decided to re-read the novel as well. Didn’t love that either. On the one hand, I do think it’s a classic for good reason. On the other hand, I have a problem with Rochester. He’s basically just a right bastard, as arrogant in his belief that because he loves Jane he has the right to throw convention away as St John Rivers is in believing that his love for God allows him to mow down any obstacle in his path. Jane’s annoying but she could still do better.

Big Sky – Kate Atkins. The latest Jackson Brodie novel, kindly sent by Blackwells. I haven’t read any of the other Brodie novels, and I’m not tempted to go back to them. I think I’m missing something, because this was a perfectly pleasant read but nothing special. I think it’s supposed to be darkly comic? And Brodie is supposed to be not hugely effective, except by happenstance? I don’t know. It was fine.

Various Jack Reachers – Lee Child. They’re comforting to dip back into, so I chain read three of them. Bad shit happened, Reacher kicked ass. I’m vaguely wondering if one could put together a thesis positing Reacher as a modern day combination of Ajax and Odysseus. The evolution of the hero to have brains and brawn, with reference to Sophocles’ Ajax. I mean of course, one could, but would it stack up beyond a bit of playful thinking? Bet it’s been done.

Another Man’s Moccasins – Craig Johnson. This is vol 4 in the Walt Longmire series, which I think has been turned into a TV series I won’t watch because TV is hard. And boring. There’s a murdered Vietnamese girl, a homeless, ex-con Indian and a backstory set in Vietnam when Walt was serving. It’s all very deadpan and practical, without over the top violence, and Walt is a good guy.  I might have to make this the next series that I work my way through, and I started looking up Wyoming as a holiday destination.

I have more Reachers on the way, because I listened to some of them and therefore have gaps amongst the paperbacks. So I’ll re-read those when they arrive. And I finally watched an entire movie all the way through on Netflix, but only because it was The Breakfast Club. Then I ordered Pretty in Pink, St Elmo’s Fire and Say Anything.




New year, same me

Since this was just Other Christmas and I couldn’t be bothered, it was a straight week off work. I didn’t really speak to anyone and I minimised all that leaving the house nonsense. I read a bunch of books and watched all the Indiana Jones movies and drank pots of coffee and slept. The cats were around a lot. It was great and I was very calm and relaxed by the end of it.

Christmas reading roundup (which was not hugely successful because there wasn’t much that I loved amid all this.)

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens.  Meh. Thought this was going to be more of a detective novel but it was just a romance. I think the setting was supposed to make it really unusual but it didn’t really gel for me.

Lake Success – Gary Shteyngart. Meh. Ramblings of a middle aged fuck up who has just left his wife and severely autistic son in pursuit of a fantasy about his college girlfriend. Mildly amusing but difficult to get over the fact that the main character is such a complete, self-centred dick. Thank goodness his wife doesn’t take him back but does take him for a lot of money. A lot. And then goes on to have a very nice life.

The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco. Because, I watched about 20 minutes of the TV adaptation and then gave up.

The Ingenious Language: Nine Epic Reason to Love Greek – Andrea Marcolongo. You are so right, Andrea! And I do love Greek! This was the best of my Daunt’s haul, and something I’ll get back to when my Greek has advanced further along from basic.

The Glass Woman – Caroline Lea. 17th century Iceland, woman marries comparatively wealthy stranger so that her mother gets food and fuel. But what really happened to his previous wife? And why won’t her husband let her in the loft? This was billed as a thriller, but I never had any sense of suspense and I didn’t really care what happened to the characters. The setting and the time period was really interesting, though.

Happiness, As Such – Natalia Ginzburg. A nice, epistolary novel, with everyone worried about the prodigal son who has been allowed to grow up being completely self-centred and aimless. The relationships are beautifully drawn.

Sadly, I was back at work on 30th, although working from home so I didn’t have to get up the full 2 hours earlier than I had been. Shudder. Still, when midway through the morning Charlie came in and ate the robin he’d caught, it was a pretty clear sign that the festive period was over. When I did make it into the office, everyone at work was in much the same state of whatthefuckment and sidled off on New Year’s Eve anywhere from lunchtime onwards.

I partied hard by listening to the Backlisted podcast episode about Venetia, and then going to bed and re-reading Venetia. I was just checking, but yes, Damerel is still my favourite.

My main plan for 2020 is to sit my Greek GCSE in May/June. To which end, I need a proper chat with my tutor about how we spend my one hour of tutorial time a week most effectively. I’m thinking it’s time to start reading the set texts, which are Herodotus (yay!) and Euripides’ Electra (double yay!), while I work through the rest of the grammar in my own time. I had a quick look at Electra and it’s bloody hard, but take a language with no set word order and play around with it for metrical effect and ta da! That’s what you get. Anyway, as it’s only GCSE there are copious notes on every line so you barely have to translate anything yourself really.

For now, I’m re-reading Dracula because I got 14 minutes through the new Gatiss/Moffatt adaptation and gave up. On audio, I’m just finishing up Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, which I’ve found sort of compellingly tedious and occasionally identifiable. Really, I’m just in a holding pattern, waiting for the new Hilary Mantel to land in March and Blue Moon to hit pb in April. Should I read, Ducks, Newburyport?