Monthly Archives: April 2019

O.U. Pretty Things!

Recent Pixelhobby designs completed – I scanned the photo of King Eric into my software for that kit and just ordered the necessary pixels.

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Well, I did say in my last blog entry that I’d show you some of my completed Pixelhobby kits, so there you have it! I’ve made some keyrings and magnets, too, but those are for another time. This time, enjoy Sydney Harbour, “Amber” the fairy, and King Eric! I have the software on my laptop, so I scanned a suitable Cantona photo into it and then printed off the charts and ordered the pixels I needed. Those other two designs, though, were kits I bought.

Hope  you can all see that and watch the ident. Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the Open University! Yep, the OU has been going since 1969. Even though various members of my family, including my dad and I, have done our degrees at actual physical universities, the OU has had an indirect part in my education, and has certainly been a constant in the background when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, because Dad was ALWAYS watching OU programmes!

Dad graduated when I was a toddler, with his Bachelor’s degree. He was on day release from work to go to Manchester Polytechnic, as it was in those days – it’s now MMU – Manchester Metropolitan University. A bit more about MMU later, but anyway, Dad did his chemistry degree alongside working, and then later also did his Master’s in conjunction with work – when he graduated from the University of Sheffield with his Master’s, I was at university myself, halfway through my degree in Bolton, although I was studying history and literature, rather than chemistry! I was at Bolton Institute, now the University of Bolton, and this summer it will be 25 years since my graduation – the ceremony was in the October, though, so this autumn will be a quarter of a century since I fulfilled my childhood ambition of wearing a cap and gown! That made Dad and I the Three Degrees, lol!

Partial credit for this ambition has to go to comic books, The Dandy and The Beano, which I read in the waiting room at our dental surgery while awaiting a check-up! I guess our former dentist, Norman Hoy, has long since gone to that great dental surgery in the sky, but he was our dentist for absolutely donkey’s years, and when I was waiting for my dental checkup, and usually those of my mum and sister in the same visit, I would be reading these comics and noticing that the teachers in comic strips such as The Bash Street Kids all wore gowns and mortar boards! I was about four years old. If I had started school, I would have been in the reception class at primary school, so I would only just have been starting my formal education, but I thought caps and gowns looked ace! I decided I wanted in on that!

So, the next thing that would have happened, probably around the same time, would have been to see actual people on the telly wearing caps and gowns, which happened one day when I was still around this young age, still only about 4… I am guessing that this might have been an Open University programme about people graduating from the courses that they ran, having watched a lot of the programmes that my dad seemed to watch for his entertainment! I guess, because he already had a degree, and worked for a chemical firm, and actually worked in the labs when I was little, the science programmes were of particular interest to him. I asked Dad if the people wearing caps and gowns were teachers. This is when he explained to me that wearing a cap and gown didn’t necessarily mean you were a teacher, although some of those graduates may well have gone on to become teachers – it simply meant they’d been to university and got a degree. So, that’s basically what started my childhood ambition!

I had no idea at that time what, if anything, I would be good at! As I said, I might not even have started school at that point, so I had no idea about school subjects. I did know that I liked books, and I was a fluent reader by the time I started school in the autumn of 1977, but I just knew I had to be brainy, and the more subjects I turned out to be good at, the more choice I would have of what I could feasibly study up to the age of 21 or more! It was indeed up to 21, and I graduated 25 years ago with a BA (Hons) Combined Studies degree in history and literature (joint). I got a “Desmond” – a 2:2, lol!

I’d better actually write something about books, hadn’t I?! However, I couldn’t go without mentioning the Open University’s birthday, as the TV programmes are part of the soundtrack of my life, part of growing up. Especially that ident and that fanfare. It is also a huge reminder of Dad.

I also suspect that it’s the OU that’s responsible for broadcasting the programme which got me into volcanoes! By that time, I think I would have been around 7 or 8, I was certainly in the first year juniors at primary school, what is now known as year 3 in the national curriculum. It was a programme which was on telly late at night, on BBC2, which makes me suspect it was the Open University, so it was probably shown for a geology degree or something. Anyway, Dad thought it would be of interest to me, and he knew I was a night owl, lol, so he let me come down to watch this programme with him. I had never seen an erupting volcano before, and I was fascinated!

There aren’t any volcanoes where I’m going on holiday (vacation) this year, which will come as a relief to many who suspect that I’m some sort of volcano goddess who goes around standing on them and causing them to erupt! Look, just because that happened when I stood on Mount Etna in 2001, that does NOT make me Volcano Woman! Reunion does have an active volcano, Piton de la Fournaise, but, as far as I’m aware, Mauritius doesn’t. Anyway, surely a volcano goddess would actually hail from a part of the world which does have at least one active volcano? That would rule out the United Kingdom, then!

Anyway, this talk of jollies, does bring me on to a book at last, you’ll be pleased to hear! I don’t know if you’re aware of Bloomsbury’s non-fiction Object Lessons series or not, but this is a series of small, short books which take ordinary, everyday objects, and delve into the history of them and popular mythology around them. The book I am reading is Souvenir, by Rolf Potts. It has an Eiffel Tower keyring on the cover. Keyrings are one of the items I tend to seek out when I’m on my travels, along with magnets and postcards. There are other items as well, but those three things usually top my list of holiday artefacts to purchase and bring home as a reminder of my jollies!

The book by Rolf Potts is most likely to be my second finish of the year. As I said in the last blog, just before my birthday, I am not doing the Goodreads Challenge this year. I hadn’t started it when 2019 started as I was in a reading slump anyway since the end of 2018. Then, twelve days into the new year, I lost my dad, so add bereavement to a book slump and it’s a recipe for not getting much read! This is why I’m only just feeling like reading a bit again now, and as with several previous slumps, it seems to be factual books which are helping me back to reading. It always seems to be non-fiction with me, although in 2015, there were two books which helped me, and one of those was fiction, that being The Art of Racing In the Rain, by Garth Stein. The non-fiction book was Why the Dutch Are Different, by Ben Coates. I actually have another book by Mr Coates, which I did start just before I went into the book slump. The Rhine, as the title suggests, is about the river which runs through a large swathe of Europe and passes through several countries, actually more countries than I suspected! We lived on the banks of the Rhine way back in 1978 when we lived in Basel, Switzerland, for six months because of Dad’s job, so I really should read that book, although it might make me sad as Dad’s not here for me to lend it to once I’ve read it, and I know he would probably have been interested.

I did mention, earlier, that I would return to the matter of Manchester Metropolitan University, and I do so now with some news from the literary world this past week. Although some posts on social media called it a sequel, the writing of Anthony Burgess which has been found at MMU is NOT a sequel to A Clockwork Orange, but more a non-fiction explanation of the novel, including how the title came about. It is not known, as yet, whether this stuff will be published, but it has at least been found, having previously been thought lost. The film version was released in 1971, but then withdrawn in 1973 at the director’s request when Stanley Kubrick heard about cases where violent incidents in the film had been copied. It was re-released in 1999 after Kubrick died.

Anyway, back to the book situation, and I will obviously have to think about what I am taking on holiday with me when I jet off, as it won’t be too long now. I will be taking my Kindle Paperwhite, so I have plenty of ebooks on that, but I’m sure there might be one or two paperbacks coming with me, and who knows what books I might find while I’m away?! It’s not unusual, as Sir Tom Jones would put it, lol, to acquire a book on my jollies! The best instance of this, so far, was in 2013 when I was in Mexico, and I found the brilliant Attention All Shipping, by Charlie Connelly, at the resort! This is a journey around the Shipping Forecast and it is very funny as well as informative, especially a certain part towards the end which mentions Faroese puffins! No more spoilers, I promise – just read it! I have actually seen it in charity shops in the past, so you might even be able to nab yourself a cheap copy of this book and help some good cause or other at the same time!

One book which probably won’t be coming on any holiday any time soon is The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon, due to its extreme chunkiness! It is a true chunky monkey, that one! Beautiful cover, though! Over 700 pages of novel, over 800 pages in total given the glossaries and maps, and it’s a hardback, so, no, it’s probably not going to be going in the suitcase despite the generous weight allowance and the fact I’ll be away for a fortnight! It’s just not practical! I know I took Dune, by Frank Herbert, to Cape Verde with me last summer, but even that one was not as large and bulky as the Samantha Shannon novel! I took Dune so that I could read it on a dune in June! I suppose I could take Dune again… I’m away for quite some time this time, travelling time and actual holiday time… and the resort where we’ll be staying boasts three beaches, so there’s scope to read Dune on a dune in June, and maybe read more of it this time round…

By the way, if any of you read The Priory of the Orange Tree either at a priory, or even underneath an orange tree, feel free to post photographic evidence! I will give a mention for anyone’s Relevant Reads! Perhaps you’ve read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in a tailor’s shop? Maybe you’ve been reading Kitchen Confidential in a kitchen? Please do feel free to join in and interact with this blog! I couldn’t care less if it’s fiction or non-fiction. Maybe it’s a children’s book? Maybe it’s a poetry anthology? Perhaps you’ve read You Took the Last Bus Home on the last bus home?! I can recommend that anthology, by the way – you’ll probably recognise some of the poems, as they’ve appeared on social media in the past few years, written by a guy called Brian Bilston. If you like the poetry of Roger McGough and or John Cooper Clarke, you might like Brian Bilston. I happen to like all those poets! I’d recommend The Luckiest Guy Alive by John Cooper Clarke, and Watch Words by Roger McGough, which is a book of my dad’s that I bagsied when I was a kid. I discovered it by chance when I was around 10 or 11, I think, in our dining room cabinet, and that was that!

He did have an appreciation for literature, even though his degrees were scientific. He studied chemistry because that was his job, and it did obviously interest him, hence all the Open University science and maths programmes he watched, which I mentioned earlier in this blog, but Dad also had a love for poetry. I bagsied the rest of his poetry books back when he and Mum split up, back in 2004, so I have had those for a long time now, it wasn’t a case of reclaiming them after he died earlier this year.

One book of my dad’s I would have liked to have reclaimed, but it wasn’t amongst his stuff when we picked up several crates of his belongings, was the book I bought him for his 70th birthday, which was John le Carré: the Biography, by Adam Sisman. It would, however, have had to have been that copy, as I wrote in it at the front for the occasion of his Big 70 in 2017. If it’s been given away and is in some charity shop, probably in the Macclesfield area of Cheshire, could someone please alert me? Ta! Pretty unlikely that I’ll get it now, but if there is a chance, I might as well have back what I got for my dad as another reminder of him. I would have written my birthday dedication to him somewhere near the front of the book, probably inside the front cover, and it’d be dated September 2017 and wishing my dad a happy 70th birthday.

Well, I think that’s about all for now. Plenty to be getting on with, lol! So, until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Souvenir – Rolf Potts
  • The Art of Racing In the Rain – Garth Stein
  • Why the Dutch Are Different – Ben Coates
  • The Rhine – Ben Coates
  • A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  • Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John le Carré
  • Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
  • You Took the Last Bus Home – Brian Bilston
  • The Luckiest Guy Alive – John Cooper Clarke
  • Watch Words – Roger McGough
  • John le Carre: the Biography – Adam Sisman
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April, blog she will…

 

Birthday photo 23 04 2018

Me last year on my birthday – nearly that time again…

Hello, fellow bookworms!

Long time no blog, I know! Regulars will know this has happened before in the history of my blogs, but I’m here now. I see I have 82 people following this blog now, so thank you very much! Especially given that you’ve had bugger all to read from me since November! Got some catching up to do, fill you in on the missing months. I think you had sussed out, though, towards the end of last year, that the reading had kinda dried up a bit and that I’d gone into a book slump again. You probably won’t be terribly surprised to learn that I didn’t meet my Goodreads Challenge last year. I was two books short, having managed 28 books during the course of 2018, whereas I’d set the target at 30. I have not bothered this year.

The List Challenges lists that I promised have now, finally, been published, so if you want to go through what I read in 2018, or the Handbag Books list, or even the list of books I’ve mentioned on here during the course of last year, you can now do so. Very sorry for the delay.

So, as I said, I’d been having Reader’s Block since the end of last year. I had hoped, as we let in 2019, that my reading mojo would return but, it certainly didn’t do so in time for the new year. In fact, things got worse. When you’re already a bookworm going through a book slump, the last bloody thing you need is bereavement, but that’s what happened. On the evening of Saturday 12th January 2019, my sister came round to inform Mum and I that Dad had died. He was 71, same age as his dad had been when he died, back when I was a teenager. We knew he’d had his health issues, but didn’t think, at the time, that it was something that couldn’t be put right if he got some medical advice.

However, as I’ve probably said before on here about my dad, he was a pretty stubborn bloke, not the sort to take advice from other people, and definitely the sort who, if he did go and see a medical practitioner, would tell them a few tales and would not be honest with them about the fact that he was a couch potato and that he liked a drink or three… His second wife, Gill, had found him dead in their bathroom, she had been away. She had phoned one of Dad’s sisters, and she in turn had phoned Ellie. Then Ellie came round to tell us.

Obviously, one or two people reading this will already know, some who are friends on FB, but for the rest of you, I’m fairly sure it will explain why I’m only just blogging now for the first time in 2019. I’ve not been reading much, if anything, and finally had my first book finish of the year last night! We’re in April, a few days away from my 46th birthday, and I have actually got a finish under my belt for this year at last! Regulars won’t be terribly surprised to learn that it was a non-fiction book which did the trick! Factual stuff gets me out of slumps! I have Mark Manson to thank, as the book was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and I really enjoyed it! You know my opinion of most so-called “self help” books, but occasionally something comes along in that genre which I actually find I can relate to, rather than finding it patronising and ableist like I do with so many others of that ilk!

You may recall that I read a similar book in 2017, that would have been Sarah Knight‘s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, so I would recommend both books to anyone who is not struck on the usual bog-standard self-help books and wants something a bit different, a book that does look at things in a different way to most books of that variety. Back to the Mark Manson book, however, and I certainly found that a lot of stuff was very relatable, particularly dealing with people who were very like that ex-friend of mine – you know the one, initials HLA. Reading Mark’s book made me feel vindicated that I’d kicked that toxic bitch out of my life.

I can’t even recall what was on my Ongoing Concerns back in November. All of that kinda fell by the wayside, and I don’t even know where my magnetic wipe board is at the moment, although probably in the garage. You did know about the loom knitting and Pixelhobby, though, as I’d started those activities before I went into the book slump, and had mentioned them in blogs in the autumn. I will give you a catch-up some time on the Pixelhobby projects. I don’t currently have a project on the go, although I’ve got something in mind. Recently completed a couple of 4 baseplate kits, my largest ones so far, and it would be another of that size that I have in mind and have got some of my pixels put aside so that I know what I’ve already got.

The one thing that has been good, though, came the week before Christmas, when the Bus Parking One was sacked after our 3-1 defeat away to Liverpool. Personally, I think he should have been sacked at the end of last season. I would have preferred it if he hadn’t been appointed in the first place, as I’ve never liked him and I have made that quite clear over the  years, but anyway, United finally had enough of his crap and booted him out on 18th December, replacing him, the following day, with the Treble-winning Legend that is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer! So, Ole’s been at the wheel since just before Christmas, and the immediate response at the time was for the lads to thrash Cardiff 5-1 away! Then, on Boxing Day, we had our first home game with Ole in charge, a 3-1 win against Huddersfield Town, and that was the last time I saw my dad. At least Dad got to see a match under Ole and know that United were playing the proper way again before he died.

Ole was made permanent at the end of last month, so it should be interesting to see who he buys in the summer. He has certainly got the best out of most of the lads he inherited from the Portuguese Pillock, though! That’s what the second half of this season has been about – believing in the current players, encouraging them to attack and score goals, and to be a good man-manager and keep the hairdryer treatment behind closed doors. Ole learned from Sir Alex, though, so this comes as standard. This is why we’re back to the United way. Even when results haven’t gone our way, you still see the effort, which is what you weren’t always seeing in the previous five and a half seasons, especially the two and a half under the Tax-Fiddling One!

It also brings me neatly onto one of my current Ongoing Concerns, which is the biography Ole, by Ian MacLeay, a book which first came out in 2007, apparently, which would have been when he retired as a player, but has now been updated this year to take in his return to United as our manager. While we’re on the subject of football-related books, I got Michael Carrick‘s autobiography, Between the Lines, for Christmas, so I’ve still got that to read yet. It’s Carrick, you know. Hard to believe it’s not Scholes, lol!

Sort of still footy related, although the book isn’t, my next mention is for a book which was mentioned by Juan Mata not long ago. I love reading Juan’s blogs, One Hour Behind, but this was actually an interview with Guillem Balague, and Juan mentioned that he’d been reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. One of the many things I love and admire about Juan is that he’s not just a great player on the pitch, but a really lovely, and very interesting, bloke away from footy! The sort of person I’d love to have a cuppa and a chat with – a natter with Mata! I would definitely love to have a chat with Juan about books!

Sales of Notre Dame de Paris, by Victor Hugo have rocketed following the devastating fire which has destroyed the roof of the famous cathedral earlier this week. I purchased a copy from Waterstone’s at the Trafford Centre on Wednesday night, and it said, in the introduction, that the cathedral had been in disrepair before, particularly after the French Revolution, but that when Hugo’s novel was published, its popularity led to necessary repairs being made back then! Hopefully sales might help once again.

I already had one of Hugo’s works, but that’s Les Misérables, and I’ve not got round to reading that yet! I would probably end up singing songs from the musical if I did, lol!

Victor Hugo always reminds me of when I was at high school, learning French… whatever textbook you use, and we used French For Today at the time, there’s usually a unit about asking for and giving directions, and so there’ll be this map of some made-up French town with various buildings on it so you can practice asking «Pour aller à la bibliothèque, s’il vous plâit?» and other similar questions. You will note that I’ve used the example of asking how to get to the library – have to keep it book-related, lol! Anyway, when you get these pretend French towns and their maps, it doesn’t seem to matter which damn text book it’s in, you can guarantee at least two of the street names! I shit you not! There will always be an Avenue Charles de Gaulle, and there will always be a Rue Victor Hugo! I would be absolutely gobsmacked if there wasn’t!

Recently been in France, actually, as we were in Disneyland Paris at the start of April, but no Rue Victor Hugo there, even though Disney did do a film of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, so Quasimodo did become a Disney character some time ago. Not really a holiday where I could get much, if any, reading done, though. Not that sort of holiday, unlike the one Mum and I are going on in the summer. That will be a more relaxing, chilled-out holiday, and some lengthy flights, so I should get some reading done!

The blog title, by the way, is based on April Come She Will, by Simon and Garfunkel, as I saw Art Garfunkel at the Lowry Theatre last Sunday. Just in case you were wondering. Yes he sang a few of the old ones from when he and Paul Simon were a duo – I pretty much grew up with their music. Mum and Dad had the Bridge Over Troubled Water album, and also I performed a fair few of their songs in the orchestra and choir when I was at high school. He also sung Bright Eyes, which was a solo number 1 for him here in the UK 40 years ago in April 1979 when I was 6! It was used in the film Watership Down at the time, which was about rabbits. As my Dad used to say… You’ve read the book, you’ve seen the film, you’ve heard the song… now eat the pie!

He’s going on the piss with Georgie Best, my dad. That’s how I see it now. As in our terrace version of Spirit In the Sky… “Goin’ on up to the spirit in the sky. That’s where I’m gonna go when I die. When I die an’ they lay me to rest I’m gonna go on the piss with Georgie Best!”

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now. I’m back and I’ve mentioned a few books, so we’re up and running for this year. I’ve started the blog-related list on List Challenges. This is the one where I mention them whether I’ve read them or not, so there should be a decent amount of books there by the end of the year, I hope! Dunno which ones I will actually have read by the end of 2019, but hopefully a few! Trying to decide whether to try a nice big chunky bit of historical fiction, perhaps Paris by Edward Rutherfurd. I have been looking at my copy of The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Yeah, it is over 1000 pages long, but, as I’ve said before, if a book is readable, size shouldn’t be a turn-off! World Without End, which is the sequel, has been moved to a higher position on the Bass Amp Book Tower. Just in case, lol!

Adam Kay book signing

Oh, and before I go, some news re Adam Kay. You may remember the brilliant This is Going to Hurt, which I read in 2017, my favourite book that year, and indeed I met the author that autumn when he came to Waterstone’s on Deansgate (see photo above)… Anyway, he’s just announced that he’s got a new book, also about his time in the medical profession before he became a comedian, and it’s due to be published in October. So I will probably be looking to pre-order Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas.

I think that definitely is all there is for now! That’s all folks, as they used to say at the end of Looney Tunes cartoons! Until the next time I blog, take care, Happy Easter and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k – Sarah Knight
  • Ole – Ian MacLeay
  • Between the Lines – Michael Carrick
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
  • Notre Dame de Paris – Victor Hugo
  • Les Misérables – Victor Hugo
  • French For Today – P J Downes & E A Griffith
  • Watership Down – Richard Adams
  • Paris – Edward Rutherfurd
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • World Without End – Ken Follett
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas – Adam Kay (due October 2019)

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