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. ┬áMeh. 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!┬áThis 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?

And, we’re back

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?

So, yeah. I thought I was done but maybe I’m not. That was a good break, but I kept thinking ‘I should write a blog post about that’, and then remembering that I don’t do that any more. Then I had a three month stint of being paid for my writing via a ton of articles I wrote for a project that in the end didn’t happen but whatevs, I got all the money anyway and some stuff got published on a corporate blog somewheres on the interwebs.

In the midst of that, I got a new, full time job that doesn’t require a shitty commute or stupid hours and lo! I’m home before 6pm on week nights. Oh, and it’s a good job paying a proper salary and the company seems really nice. Huh.

And I had all my hair cut off, and did some decorating and read some books and listened to some audiobooks, and Charlie has so far left three dead rabbits under the bed. I’m going to start storing stuff there just to stop him using it as a larder.

I made a sourdough starter and my sourdough isn’t the greatest but it’s ok. Loaves are rising as I type, and will continue to rise overnight until I bake them before I go to a yoga workshop in the morning.

I’m still single. It’s still fucking awesome. John Wick 3 was ok, better than 2, not as good as 1. I need to see Avengers Endgame again and I meant to see Rocketman this evening but then I painted my fence with teak oil, rewarded myself with wine and ordered a takeaway instead.

I’m reading a book about otters, and listening to Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver and I simply cannot find the right pair of black shoes.

I think we’re up to date now. Did you miss me?



In which I have seen some ads and some theatre

I know, surprising, isn’t it? But the big retailer Christmas ads have been released and then Twitter was alive with comment on them so I had to pop over to YouTube and watch them. I’m not linking to them, neither of them deserve it. The John Lewis ad was almost instantly forgettable, except for the penguins, but the Random Penguins promptly hijacked it with a much better version:

And now that I work in marketing I have to salute their agile marketing and wish that in my day job I could afford their agency.

The Sainsbury’s ad filled me with a slow-burning fury. If you haven’t seen it, in a nutshell it appropriates the Christmas Day truce that happened in some places along the trenches during WWI. Some British and German soldiers apparently came out and played football in No Man’s Land. Some just carried on killing each other, but Sainsbury’s chose not to deal with that bit. The ad is beautifully shot, actual historians were involved in the making, they tried very hard to be historically accurate, blah blah blah. My teeny-tiny objection is that nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies taking a war in which so many people died, and using it to sell stuff. Nothing. In a particularly classy touch, the ad released the same week as Armistice Day. Yes. A fitting memorial to the dead is if we all hightail it to Sainsbos to buy their special reproduction wartime chocolate bars.

I expect some of the Sainsbury’s demographic were at the Haymarket Theatre on Saturday night, watching Great Britain. The play is set in the office of a tabloid newspaper, The Free Press, which could stand in for any of the real red tops. It successfully satirized tabloids in general, but particularly phone hacking. There was a lot of swearing, the jokes came thick and fast and the dubious deals (we’ll put in you No. 10 if you end the BBC’s license fee) and dodgy networking (news editor of paper fucking the Met’s Asst Commissioner who promptly ‘lost’ evidence) are probably pretty close to the mark. I enjoyed the play, while simultaneously thinking that it didn’t add anything to the debate about how ghastly the tabloids are and how culpable the Great British public is in continuing to support them.

I think satire is tough now that we’ve had The Thick of It, and also now that there seems to be a weekly revelation proving that anyone in any position of authority is exactly as corrupt, fucked up and blinded by their own power as you hope they wouldn’t be. The bottom line seems to be that if they can do it they will, whether that’s MPs misusing expenses, or GCHQ listening to conversations that are out of their jurisdiction. It’s no wonder that Marvel can line up superhero movies through to 2018; we all need to think that some wrongs are being righted by someone, somewhere. Or maybe that’s just me, and my crushes on Robert Downey, Jr. and Jeremy Renner.

Still, while the disasters keep piling up, it’ll keep Sainsbury’s in inappropriate Christmas ad material for years to come.

Underwhelmed by Bond

I don’t know why it seemed like a good idea, but I had made plans for yesterday that said that after work, we would drive up to New Haven to meet friends, have dinner and then go to a 10.15pm showing of Quantum of Solace. It was a great idea to see friends, of course, but it was too late a night for me and now I’m going to have fight to catch up on my sleep in time for Monday morning. I am a dozy mare.

As for the film, I was disappointed. I’d read a couple of reviews complaining that there are no wise-cracks or gadgets, and that Daniel Craig plays Bond as a cold-hearted killer. All that seems to me like an improvement on the tongue-in-cheek cheesefest that Pierce Brosnan was reduced to and if anything, I was looking forward to the film more because of it. I loved Casino Royale precisely because it was more of a return to the James Bond of the book.

So, story workable, Daniel Craig entirely Bond-worthy, but I was disappointed. By the time the film finished I was still waiting for it to start, because all that fast cutting made it feel like a very extended trailer. I like car chases, across-the-rooftops action scenes and good solid fight scenes and they were obviously filmed; but then it seemed the director chose his favourite bits, spliced them together, and entirely broke down any idea of sequence. They weren’t exciting or tense, because it was visually impossible to keep track of what the hell was going on, and there was no time for suspense to build. And that bit where Bond and the other guy were swinging on ropes came perilously close to having so many possible dangers in it that it turned into the action version of Mousetrap.

Also, surely I should not go to see a Bond film and come away thinking ‘Huh. Bond wasn’t in that much’? In fact, I think that no one was in it much because they were never allowed on the screen long enough to have any effect, except oddly, M. Judi Dench is a fine actress and that’s what I want to look like when I’m her age, but it’s not her show.

Ah, bah. Zoesmom and I had been joking that we would watch Daniel Craig reading the phone book. I think I’d actually have preferred that.