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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Filed under Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Chunky Monkeys, Computer Corner, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Fantasy Fiction, Humour, Manc Stuff!, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Pixelhobby, Poetry, School, College & Uni Reading, Science Fiction, The TBR Pile, Travel, Volcanoes

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