Posted in Art, books, photography, Uncategorized

2019: Week 10

Quite windy and damp this week. Not the best weather for me to venture out in, but I managed a trip to Greenwich.

The Mask of Youth

Mat Collishaw’s installation is brilliantly disturbing, and like other “animatronic” works, it uses motion sensors to track nearby movement, turning to stare freakily into the eyes of its audience. It is displayed very cleverly in the Queen’s House, gazing at its own portrait and itself in a mirror. This will only be on display for another week or so, so hurry if you want to see it.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Since I was in Greenwich, it seemed a shame to miss the opportunity to see this. At £10, though, the exhibition was overpriced, especially as it was padded out with photographs from previous years, which made it harder to pick out the current year’s winners. (The poster shows the overall winner- I have to say it wouldn’t have been my choice). This yearly exhibition used to be housed in the Old Royal Observatory at the top of the hill, a much better, and more appropriate, venue than the National Maritime Museum.


Two from my pile of physical books, both Xmas gifts.

The Legacy was a nasty little Scandi noir, the first in a series that I probably won’t continue with. It was fine. Yrsa Sig is a good writer, and it did keep me guessing until the end, which rarely happens. I didn’t like the murder methods in this, and I wonder what sort of brain can think up something so particularly nasty. I didn’t like the womanising cop either.

Old Man’s War is a hard SF tale, slightly reminiscent of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, but with a much better deal for the female and LGBT characters, as I expect from Scalzi. I’m not exactly a “spaceships and aliens” buff any more, but this was interesting enough to make me consider buying the next in the series.

Christopher Spencer ( aka @ColdwarSteve) has produced a book that so completely matches my own rage at what my country is doing to itself that I had to buy it. This man should be nominated for the Turner Prize for his photomontage work.

Tangerine is my library reading group book for March. I admit my heart sank when I saw the cover, but once I started reading, I found I couldn’t put this one down. Poor Alice.

Posted in books

July 9: The Rings of Saturn #1

A few weeks ago, I came across a proposal to set up a Twitter reading group. The book to be read, studied, discussed is W G Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. The activity is planned to run from July 9th until August 2nd.

I had joined in with a similar group at the end of last year, with the same group leader, and I decided to take up the challenge again. I chose a hard-copy edition this time.

So, I opened the book to chapter 1 this morning. The opening paragraph was encouraging:

In August 1992, when the dog days were drawing to an end, I set off to walk the county of Suffolk, in the hope of dispelling the emptiness that takes hold of me whenever I have completed a long stint of work.”

However, the author then spends the entire chapter not talking about the walk. Instead, he meanders off on an interesting discussion of several dead academics, and aspects of their work.

I can tell already that Sebald and I will have different opinions on things, if only from the interpretation of one item – Rembrandt’s painting The Anatomy Lesson. Sebald mentions what I think is the most important item in the painting, the anatomy textbook that everyone is looking at. He then dismisses it as irrelevant (to Rembrandt, as well as to himself!). My copy of the book has two images of the painting:

In neither image does the textbook appear.

I am very curious to see how the book progresses. Watch this space.

Posted in Uncategorized

January 4th: Writing

I mentioned a few days ago that I was planning to write about a couple of my characters this year. So, I was browsing through Twitter, and up popped an interesting challenge that an artist has set herself (check out the details here ). She has specifically asked for her art to be shared, so here is the first in her series of illustrations.

It triggered an urge to revisit Billy, an old character of mine, which in turn led to a 1000-word opener to what might be an interesting fill-in of a major gap in his story. I’m not posting the link to the story, as I keep my writing persona away from here, but I haven’t written anything new for a long time, so I feel it is worth mentioning.

Posted in books, Gigs, Musical theatre, Theatre

Week 51

It’s Christmas!


In the week up to Christmas Eve, there was enough seasonal entertainment to exhaust the most hardened pleasure seeker…


Wilton’s Music Hall

Piers Torday: The Box Of Delights


This was a vastly chopped-about version of the story, and was rather difficult for younger children to understand. Some elements were slapstick, some were very frightening indeed, and all were over-acted. The set was clever, and there was some imaginative use of puppets and projection, but overall, the whole thing was grey and misty, and not just from the over-use of haze. I had hoped to be entranced, but it didn’t quite happen.

Gigs that don’t quite fit into categories

Conway Hall

Robin Ince: Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People


This was a fast-moving but strangely over-running variety show, full of science, comedy , music and a man cooking eggs with a wallpaper steamer. Oddly, this show was the most Christmassy thing I saw this week.  I laughed a lot.

O2 Arena

Disney on Ice:Passport to Adventure


What it says on the tin. Disney characters on skates. Some of it was good, some a bit long-winded. The Peter Pan section could have been chopped in half without losing anything, and there was room for a bit more Frozen.  It was fun. Children in the audience loved it. I had a problem with the expensive and ridiculous merchandising, but I suppose that’s what it was really all about.


Reading Challenge 

Two more this week, bringing my total up to 96


I am reading a lot of children’s books lately. (Deciding what to buy young relatives for Christmas is difficult!) I had heard good things about the Velveteen Rabbit, but I was a little disappointed in it. I wanted to learn more about the Skin Horse. I wanted the rabbit to have more trials to overcome. I suppose I wanted a book for the 10 year old me…

Mr Penumbra irritated me intensely. It is ostensibly about a bookshop, but is actually about a Dungeons and Dragons style quest without the dragons, and with added computer nerdery. Not a classic.



I have never read the Dark is Rising, so this year I joined a Twitter reading group to do it properly. The book begins on Midwinter’s eve, which happened to fall this week. This book won’t be part of my 100-books Challenge, because I don’t plan to finish it before New Year. So far, I am enjoying being part of a pretty large community of readers. Other people’s perspectives are really interesting.