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.

The important things in life

Which are, of course, biscuits, cats, tea and books. Hitherto, biscuits probably wouldn’t have made it onto my list, but now that I’m working from home, I’m finding the 10.30am chocolate digestive is a key element to a successful working day. Plus, I’ve realised that the 80p per day I was chucking into a vending machine for one Cadbury’s Snack! bar was a total rip off, when you get can get 2 packets of choc digestives for £2.


Belle remains my good cat and desk kitten. She has allocated desk space, demarcated by a folded blanket, and usually curls up there or on the window ledge. She only very occasionally interrupts a video call, but I presume that just helps someone win their current game of Video Call Bingo, so I don’t discourage her.

Charlie, on the other hand, although He Is a Good Kitten Really, has been wreaking havoc among the local young rabbit population. I saved one small bunny from his claws last week, and put it in the field over the road. It had hopped away when I went back to check later, so I hope that means it’s off for a long and happy life and was not the poor unfortunate that Charlie was snacking on a day later. I cleared up a lot of rabbit pieces from outside my back door this weekend and it was disgusting.


Another side benefit of working from home, is that I’m less dehydrated. If only to get a break from my screen, I switch some of my calls to phone only, which means I can wander downstairs and make a cup of tea. There hasn’t been room on the desk for a pot of tea, but that might be the solution for mid-afternoons now that I’ve reorganised a bit.  Anyway, lots more tea in my future, I hope, as I cling desperately to the idea of working from home for the long term and bat away the anxiety provoked by the thought of having to leave the house on a regular basis. And, breathe.


I’ve done a very poor job of tracking what I’m reading this year, but I’ve got the TBR shelf down to a single layer. My bookcases are all full, though, and I don’t have any room for the rapidly expanding number of Greek textbooks. There is one more wall where a half height bookcase could fit, but it’s an awkward width so will need to be made to measure. The list of ‘things to be done when people can come to the house and do them’ is gradually extending.

In more exciting book news, the Backlisted podcast is back, and they kicked off with Excellent Women by Barbara Pym so I shall re-read that over the next couple of days. I’ve still got some Reachers on the way from Blackwell’s and now I have another order building as books I’ve been waiting for start to hit paperback, and as I realise I don’t still have copies of books I used to own or thought I owned:

  • Earthsea trilogy – Ursula K Leguin. But now I remember I went looking for this in February and decided the lovely hardback was too unwieldy. What I really want are the 70s Puffin copies I first read from the school library.
  • Herodotus Histories – how do I not have this? How do I have Travels with Herodotus but not actually Herodotus? Where did it go?
  • Quartet in Autumn – Barbara Pym. Backlisted referenced it and I can visualise the cover but I can’t find it. So annoying.
  • A Thousand Ships – Natalie Haynes. Obvs.
  • Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell.
  • On Chapel Sands – Laura Cumming.
  • A Wreath for the Enemy – Emily Frankau (out of print)
  • The Mabinogi – Matthew Francis. Which includes the story of Blodeuedd, the woman made of flowers, which is of course the story used in The Owl Service by Alan Garner. So then I could re-read that again as well.

It’s such a shame that now when you put in a big book order, they’re delivered in dribs and drabs. I want one box with all of them in one go, so that I get the full excitement of lots of new books at once. Really I want them all in a sort of packing case, hand wrapped in brown paper and string as well, but that’s probably a bit too Charing Cross Road for these benighted times. Bloody progress.

In which I go to the opera

In fact, that’s my plan for this evening. I’m going to watch Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, about which I know no more than the accompanying blurb on the website. But, I decided this is cultural exploration week and the opera is free, so what have I got to lose?

The rules are, I treat the performances I’m watching as though I’m physically there (within reason). This means, no phone and I have to stay for the whole thing, but I’m allowed to pause to refill my wine glass.

This week I watched:

Oklahoma!, starring Hugh Jackman and Maureen Lipman in a National Theatre production from the 80s. While I love a musical, I haven’t been a big fan of this one. I saw it when I was young and absolutely didn’t understand the ballet sequence, and had a general impression that the whole thing was long and a bit dull. So it definitely seemed worth re-exploring. This was a great production and I’m glad to have been reintroduced to some classic show tunes.

BalletBoyz show Ripple, via Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage on Facebook. I struggle with some contemporary dance because I don’t know how to read it. While I admired the technique and skill in this performance, I mostly didn’t actually like it. Then again, that’s not always the point of art, is it? Sadler’s Wells are making more performances available as well so I’ll keep checking in.

Bruce Springsteen on Broaday, via Netflix. Which I loved so, so much, and which delivered the definitive performance of Born in the USA. Even the most obtuse listener could have no excuse for continuing to think it’s anthemic. I mostly don’t care about live shows, the benefit of experiencing the performance live is countered by the horror of being in a big crowd of people. But I really, really wish I had seen this live, and now I’ll be digging out the Bruce backlist and working my way through again. So Friday night with Brooooce and a couple of glasses of wine? There’s nothing to complain about in that.

I’ve done a couple of online yoga classes as well, via Facebook Liv and I’ve booked ahead for upcoming streaming theatre from the National. Jane Eyre is on next Thursday, and then later in April it’s Twelfth Night with Tamsin Greig. So all in all I continue not to struggle with being required to stay mostly at home. My challenge is that there’s so much to do, how do I choose?!

Meanwhile, to keep me busy today, I bought Cain’s Jawbone, which is a literary puzzle. It’s a 100 page novel but the pages are in the wrong order, so as the reader you have to figure out the correct order and identify the murderers. It was written in the 1930s by Torquemada, the Observer’s cryptic crossword creator, and it’s only known to have been solved twice. I don’t rate my chances at all but hey, I’ve got some spare time.