Saturday, January 23, 2010

Neighbourhood watch

Has my nextdoor neighbour just been arrested?

Watch this space (cos I sure as hell am!!)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Learning-THE BLOG!

Right, deep breath.
I've been reviewing my reading for four years, making notes, slapdash comments or simply rattling down whatever tiredness, level of engagement or time and emotion will allow.
Following an enforced spell in solitary confinement whilst I get over swine flu (for real!) I've been able to move the library or 'reviews' onto their own blog.
Catalogued by author and in chronological order, you can now find details of every book I have read and completed since January 2006. Unfortunately I was not patient enough to bring the comments over, they still exist, alongside the original reviews in the archives of TRDOWM. All future 'Book learning' posts will appear directly on the new'ish' blog. Hope some of you might find it interesting.

Book learning 59

The Great Silence 1918-1920. Living in the shadow of the Great War. By Juliet Nicolson

I'm not sure if my childhood obsession with World War One has ever really been too prominent in this blog. It's the historical obsession that predated the historical obsession with American history. Between the age of 11 and 17 it was all about the Schlieffen plan, Passschendaele, Zeppelins, President Wilson's 12 points (oh? Do you see a link?)

Cut to 2010 and the pile of books delivered by Santa.

This surprisingly accessible read deals with the zeitgiest of the two years immediately following the November armistice in 1918, as such, it's primary concern is grief. The book follows the seasons as the nation tries to come to terms with the apocalyptic loss of the previous four years. Along with the extremely traumatic side of things such as severely disabled veterans, early forays into plastic surgery and the various coping mechanisms of the bereaved the book also looks at elements of popular culture, the mood of the people, industrial relations and the decisions behind some of the iconic monuments commemorating the loss of the Great War (The Cenotaph, The Unknown soldier). Throw all this together and it makes for a powerful and absorbing read.

I began reading this in the full flush of health, then I got a hefty dose of swine flu. I couldn't read or do anything for a few days and when I did eventually sit up in bed I wasn't so sure that I wanted to be reading about the effects of Spanish flu, however the time did allow me to really get into the book in a way that's just not possible when you grab twenty minutes before bedtime. Having said all that, I would not recommend swine flu as an aid to reading.

It was the human angle that came through strongest, the book was based largely on anecdotes or diaries and the emotions people experienced were refreshingly honest, some thought the idea of a ' tomb of the unknown warrior' insincere or disrespectful, children were creeped out by disfigured veterans, young women who just wanted everyone to get over it. A good insight into a lost age and not without lessons for our own times.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Book learning #58

Blue Blood by Edward Conlon.

The first of the Christmas books bites the dust.

A pacey first 350 pages which stalled abit after that, became a bit repetitive. I still thoroughly enjoyed it even if I did flick a bit towards the end. The most enjoyable parts were the history of the NYPD and the folklore angle.

At various parts of this, I felt homesick for the old place.

I'm gonna pass this onto a good old friend.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Snow Days!!

Snow days? Just the best aren't they?

A day snatched from the grasp of The Man, a day when you can eat a little more and do bizarre things like baking and building snowmen.

A day when even your grumpy neighbour can raise a smile (before he takes a tumble and breaks a hip)

And what's better than one stolen, beautiful snowday?

TWO beautiful, stolen snowdays!

As well as the above, it should be noted that the year had hardly begun, up to date with work and planning and stuff. This meant that I was able to enjoy both days (and the weekend) without a single worry about things I should be doing!

And please, no cheeky comments from Americans "Call that snow?" etc. We know, Frau Random Doubt (lately of R.I. and Kings County, NYC) pointed out "This is real snow".

Friday, January 01, 2010


So what is this?

The Teenies?

Anyway, today I realised that I have a big thing in common with David Cameron.

I also want to be in a new house by the end of this year.