Category Archives: Ongoing Concerns

Getting A Round Tuit…

A Round Tuit

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Back again, and a bit of catching up to do as I’ve not blogged for a bit. Meant to, but didn’t get around to it, or even a round tuit, lol! I do hope I will get at least another blog in before the end of the year, although I’m pretty busy around new year, so the usual List Challenges lists that relate to this blog and to what I’ve read this year might have to be published either just before new year or in early January. So, I’m sitting at my laptop, listening to Absolute 80s, and United are winning 2-1 against Spurs, both our goals by Marcus Rashford, and I’ve got some updating to do on the book front…

Think the last blog was August or September? I had been to Power Up at the Museum of Science and Industry in town, had some ear discomfort, a bit of vertigo and dizziness, and then a touch of the notorious Badger’s Arse with a stupid cold.

Don’t think I’d been to the Lakes at that point, no I hadn’t. So that’s the next bit, around mid September around the time of what would have been Dad’s birthday, when Mum and I had a short break in the Lake District, and also stopped off at a couple of other places on the way back on the Tuesday, so we covered Bowness, Brockholes and Blackpool in one day!

As you can imagine, I purchased a few books during this break, and I have read one of them! It was one of the books I bought at Waterstone’s in Blackpool, and it seemed apt given that the seaside town has three piers… the book was Pier Review, by Jon Bounds and Danny Smith, and it is their account of their road trip around the coast of England and Wales to visit all the piers! They’re from Birmingham, about as far from any seaside resort as you can get in mainland Britain, lol, and they rope in this friend, Midge, to do the driving, only this means they have to get round the country within a fortnight because Midge needs to be back in Brum in time to get his arse to the job centre and sign on!

In October, my friend Sarah and I went to the Royal Northern College of Music in town for an event which was part of the Manchester Literary Festival. Prior to this, I hadn’t actually been to the RNCM for donkey’s years – not since I was at high school, doing GCSE Music, and me and Dad went to a big band concert at the college. However, the reason Sarah and I were at the RNCM in October was because one half of our favourite duo was talking about the literary influences on his lyrics! Yep, Neil Tennant, the singing half of the Pet Shop Boys, was in town, so Sarah and I were there to see him, and the ticket price included a copy of his book, which was published late last year, One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem. For the purposes of this blog and literature, I am classing that book as a poetry book anyway, as song lyrics are essentially poems with music added!

Of course, there has been a lot of PSB news since the autumn. First, they announced the greatest hits tour, Dreamworld, and Sarah and I will be off to the Arena in May 2020 to see Neil and Chris once again! Also, there was a new album announcement. At that time, the title wasn’t revealed, just the first single, Dreamland, and recently Burning the Heather has been released, but they have since revealed that the album title will be Hotspot, another one-word title to the surprise of absolutely nobody who knows anything about Pet Shop Boys albums, lol! I don’t think it was intentional at first, but after about 3 or 4 albums, when either Actually or Introspective came out, I think someone mentioned it to Neil and Chris, and it has been a tradition ever since! Hotspot will be released in January.

You may recall that, back in the summer, I had an optical emergency, and needed new specs, which resulted in me having two new pairs of glasses, distance and reading. At that time, I started on the Object Lessons book, Eye Chart, by William Germano. I have now finished this book, meaning I have read 6 Object Lessons books this year. In total, I have managed 18 books this year with 4 weeks remaining of 2019. Considering that I didn’t start on the books until April, that’s not too bad.

For anyone interested in the Gallagher Girls series, by Ally Carter, about the spy school, and my ongoing challenge to get the series via charity shops, I have now got the fourth book, Only the Good Spy Young, which I found at the Age UK shop on Monton Road recently, so I only need the 5th book now to complete the set, as I own books 1 to 4 and also book 6. I plan to read the series once I have them all, although I probably could start sooner.

9th November marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. At that time, as a 16 year old at sixth form college, it took us all by surprise, although I since learned that a lot of stuff was going on in the Eastern Bloc which kinda led to the events in Berlin in 1989, events which actually started in Hungary in 1988 when their head honcho realised that their economy was stagnating and he went off to see Gorbachev in Moscow. He was a bit concerned about Soviet history of sending the tanks in, but he needn’t have worried this time. The Soviet premier knew the same stuff was happening in the USSR and things would need to change soon, so he wasn’t going to send the tanks in to Budapest if Hungary wanted to go all Western and open their borders up. I have made a start on The Berlin Wall, by Frederick Taylor, but that might be an Ongoing Concern for some time, lol, as it’s a bit of a chunky hardback and not really a book I want to lug around with me.

While we’re on the subject of the 30th anniversary of the end of the Iron Curtain, I really could do with finishing 1989: The Year That Changed the World, by Michael Meyer. I started that book quite some time ago, but really need to resume and finish it! I still can’t believe the 1980s are so long ago now! Mind you, even the 1990s are a while back. This year marked 25 years since I graduated from university in 1994! In May this year, it was 20 years since United won the Treble when Ole put the ball in the Germans’ net on 26th May 1999!

Funnily enough, United have won 2-1 this evening, as well, although against Tottenham Hotspur, not Bayern Munich! Marcus Rashford got both our goals this evening. Ole’s our manager these days, but did score another against Bayern when we had the Treble Anniversary match in May and stuffed Bayern’s old boys 5-0 at Old Trafford twenty years to the day that he made history in the Nou Camp.

On the Ongoing Concerns front, one hardback I am taking around with me is Me, by Sir Elton John, his autobiography. Very enjoyable and quite funny. Need to get on with it, my sister has put in a request to read it when I’ve finished with it! I could go on to Face It, by Debbie Harry, which I got at the same time as Sir Elton John’s book. They were on offer at Asda in Swinton not long ago.

I picked up something of an interesting book at Waterstone’s the other week, the premise of which sounded like a good laugh. The book is Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente, and it sounds as though someone has combined The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, with the Eurovision Song Contest, which has resulted in a pan-galactic version of Eurovision with it’s dodgy songs and biased voting, and set it, musically, in the 70s glam rock era! Showing my age here, lol, but glam rock was in when I was a baby! Slade and Wizzard were doing battle for the Christmas number 1 spot back in 1973. So many of the best Christmas records came out in the 70s and 80s, actually! One or two before or since, but the vast majority of classic festive records for this time of year came out during the 70s and 80s! My all-time fave Christmas song came out 32 years ago in 1987, and is the legendary Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl.

Absolute 80s currently playing Don’t Leave Me This Way by The Communards, one of my all-time favourite songs! Not much of a dancer, lol, but this one is practically guaranteed to get me up on the dancefloor at a disco! Number 1 and best-selling single of 1986, pop pickers!

I started out this blog with the Round Tuit, and perhaps I should make that some kind of theme on this blog when I get around to any book that I have had knocking around for some time! There are quite a few that I have had for absolutely ages and not read, so we shall start a new category… the “A Round Tuit” book list for books I’ve eventually got around to reading! Some of them might be half-read books that I get around to resuming and finishing off. Perhaps Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Bernières, for instance.

Busy with the steel band tomorrow night and Wednesday next week, then my team’s Christmas meal next Thursday, so we will finish work early and head off to eat. I will also have to get some more Christmas shopping in and do some pressie-wrapping while wearing my United Santa hat and listening to festive songs, so I may or may not get a blog in before Christmas, but I hope I will get one in between Christmas and New Year. I will probably stick to not bothering with the Goodreads Challenge. I think challenges like that skew reading habits. You feel like you need to read a lot of short books so that you can get as many in as you can during the year, and therefore it discourages the reading of chunky monkeys. If you stop giving a toss, it’s very freeing, as it says in those books I’ve read about not giving a f**k! You’re not skimming, you’re not sticking to short books, you are taking your time and savouring what you read, and if you read an epic novel or two, and it takes you a while to get through them, so what?!

Maybe one day, I will go back to that, but I rather like not giving a shit about targets! Reading should be about pleasure and enjoyment. Even when I read non-fiction, it’s still for pleasure, I read factual stuff I’m interested in and most of my reading in 2019 has been factual. I did my fair whack of having to read books by a certain time when I was a student and what happened back in those days was that I was left, after graduation, with quite a few books I can’t really remember! I can certainly remember some of those I did read in their entirety, such as The Magic Toyshop, by Angela Carter, Death In Venice, by Thomas Mann, and The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins-Gilman, but some of the others, particularly the classics and chunky novels, I have a hard time remembering anything about the plots because I had to skim-read! Even though this one wasn’t particularly chunky, I just cannot remember anything about the plot of Surfacing, by Margaret Atwood! Sorry, Margaret! It was on one of my literature modules for my degree, but I can only remember the title and author.

I’d better get this finished as Match of the Day is coming on soon! In case I don’t get another blog in this side of 25th December, I will finish by wishing all my followers a very Merry Christmas and hope you get lots of books, or at least bookstore gift cards!

Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Pier Review – Jon Bounds and Danny Smith
  • One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem – Neil Tennant
  • Eye Chart – William Germano
  • Only the Good Spy Young – Ally Carter
  • The Berlin Wall – Frederick Taylor
  • 1989: The Year That Changed the World – Michael Meyer
  • Me – Sir Elton John
  • Face It – Debbie Harry
  • Space Opera – Catherynne M. Valente
  • The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières
  • The Magic Toyshop – Angela Carter
  • Death In Venice – Thomas Mann
  • The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins-Gilman
  • Surfacing – Margaret Atwood

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Filed under A Round Tuit!, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Chunky Monkeys, Football, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Object Lessons, Ongoing Concerns, Poetry, Science Fiction, Sports, The TBR Pile, Travel, YA Books

New Specs and the New Season

Me with new specs August 2019

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Last time I blogged was the day of the Optical Emergency, as you may recall, when I had had to book the day off work because an arm had come off my glasses in the wee small hours, and I’d had to go to the optician’s to have an eye test and get new specs ordered. Well, I collected my specs after work on Friday just gone, and those are my reading glasses in the photo above. I also have distance glasses. As I said in the last blog, I have reached Middle Age now, lol! That’s last season’s shirt, not got a new one yet, but I’ll get on to the footy later.

Anyway, I finished Sock, from the Object Lessons series, the day before I picked up my new glasses, so I was actually able to move on to Eye Chart in time to celebrate the acquisition of my new visual assistance devices! The actual standard, traditional eye chart, which starts with one big letter at the top, usually an E, was invented by a Dutch optician called Herman Snellen. Another feature of the eye test, the card which you are asked to hold at your normal reading distance, was invented by an Austrian guy called Eduard Jaeger, so you now know two of the people responsible for aspects of getting your eyes looked at!

Wonder who invented the contraptions they put all those different lenses in? You know, that bit when they ask if it looks clearer with 1 or with 2, and they pretty much look as blurred or as clear as each other and you can’t tell the bloody difference, lol! I’ve been wearing specs from a pretty young age, before I started primary school, although I don’t think it was until I started school that I wore them properly. Often, before that, I would wear them on top of my head like my Grandad D-J, lol! Thing is, when you’re little, the font size in children’s books is pretty large, so I could read it without my glasses. I can see without my specs, but as I am long-sighted, things look further away than they really are when I’m not wearing them. Also, I have a lazy left eye that doesn’t look the right way.

There is actually a suburb of Manchester called Longsight. Bearing in mind that a considerable percentage of the world’s population are short-sighted, there must be a fair few short-sighted people in Longsight, which is possibly the ultimate example of Mancunian irony, or should that be eye-rony?!

I wear my specs most of the time. I only really take them off for being in water, or going to sleep. I take them off for having a shower, or if I’m going swimming. There were also the occasional other sporting activities in my school days which necessitated the removal of my eyewear, stuff like trampolining, but I last did any of that malarkey donkey’s years ago, so it would just be swimming these days. If I am going for a workout, I hardly need to take my specs off to go on a treadmill or an exercise bike. In fact, I need them on so I can programme the damn machines for how many minutes of workout I want!

Space Invader Funko Pop

No, you’re not seeing things. That is a bright green space invader! It’s a Funko Pop, which I bought on Saturday at the Museum of Science and Industry in town. I’m going back there this weekend, though, as I’ve now booked a ticket for Power Up. That’s what I was hoping to go to, but they’d sold out, so I’m returning more prepared this weekend, lol! I probably should have the space invader here around Computer Corner, shouldn’t I?! It would be suitably nerdy!

Talking of suitably nerdy, I wore this t-shirt (above) which I saw in a shop in the Trafford Centre recently, and just had to get it! I am always using the “Not Found” error, usually if there’s any suggestion that a person can ever have too many books! I will often comment…

Error 404: “Too Many Books” Not Found.

Please Enter “Not Enough Bookshelves” and Retry.

Hopefully, I’ll wear it again this coming weekend when I return to have a mosey around MOSI and get to visit the Power Up event, which is a chance to play lots of retro video games! I’m not the greatest at video games, I tend to hit the wrong buttons and lose lives, lol, but I still like them, and they remind me of being a kid in the late 70s and early 80s, and the days when Dad used to bring computers home from work sometimes, and then we got our own computer as a family. It was Dad who showed me how to write basic programs in BASIC – essentially doing what would be called coding nowadays.

I even bought a book at MOSI, that being Lost In a Good Game, by Pete Etchells. The sub-heading is Why We Play Video Games and What They Can Do For Us.

Anyway, after my visit to the Museum of Science and Industry, I made my way from Castlefield onto Deansgate, and after visiting Forsyth’s for a few music-related bits and bobs, I entered Waterstone’s. You’re not even surprised, are you?! I can tell! You will be even less surprised to discover that books were purchased, including two more Object Lessons books, those being Burger, by Carol J. Adams, and Shopping Mall, by Matthew Newton. I also bought A Short History of Drunkenness, by Mark Forsyth. It sounded interesting, and potentially amusing, to read about the history of excessive booze consumption and people getting ratarsed through the ages!

Actually, all three of those would present opportunities for my oft-mentioned Relevant Reads idea. You could read Burger in a diner or fast-food establishment, Shopping Mall at the Trafford Centre or other similar retail outlet, and the book about drunkenness in a pub, or even a brewery! Even if you couldn’t organise the proverbial piss-up in a brewery, surely you could at least manage to read about piss-ups in said establishment?!

You could even read Don’t You Forget About Me whilst listening to the song of the same name by Simple Minds! The book is by Mhairi McFarlane, and it’s another recent purchase, although, as you can probably tell, I’m still pretty much in non-fiction mode at the moment. Still not really ventured back into the realm of novels yet. If a book shares its title with a song, though, that just makes me think about the song far too much! Any time I catch sight of a copy of I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb, I instantly think of True by Spandau Ballet! It’s impossible not to if you’re an 80s nut like me!

Actually, some do it on purpose, and name their book after a song title. For instance, What’s New, Pussycat? by Alexandra Potter, which I read some years ago now. That was deliberate on the part of the author as there was a distinct theme of songs by Sir Tom Jones running through it, and the main protagonist was called Delilah! The edition I have put on List Challenges is not the one I had, but in the Google search, that one was too blurred for some odd reason, I couldn’t get a good image of it, so I have had to go with a different cover, and I don’t like doing that!

Of course, the weekend just gone marked the start of the new Premier League season, and my lads were at home on the Sunday, so it was back to Old Trafford for me, and back in my second home – the Stretford End.

As they might put it on the telly, any viewers of a Chelsea-supporting nature should look away now…

United 4 Chelsea 0 11th Aug 2019

For much of the game, it was quite close, actually, and the visitors hit the crossbar on a number of occasions. Thankfully, we have a much-improved defence, especially as two of our three new signings this summer were bought to shore up our back four! We acquired Harry Maguire from Leicester City as a centre back, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, from Crystal Palace, as a full back, and they both impressed on Sunday! Wan-Bissaka particularly stood out for me, as he had done during pre-season games, and I have taken a considerable liking to him already!

We went ahead on 18 minutes thanks to a Marcus Rashford penalty, after Rashy had been brought down. VAR (Video Assisted Refereeing) has come in this season in the Premier League, and that was one of the incidents which was checked, but it was an obvious penalty and didn’t take long for them to say so! Even then, Chelsea still threatened, and I would have been quite happy to take a 1-0 win, but there was a spell midway through the second half when we just blew them away with two goals in quick succession, and that pretty much killed Chelsea off! Anthony Martial made it 2-0 on 65 minutes, and then only two minutes later, Marcus Rashford got his second goal of the game with probably the best goal of the match to make it 3-0, and I think our visitors got the message that it wasn’t their day!

I had mentioned that we signed three players for our first team this summer, and the two defenders started the game, but we also saw the introduction of Daniel James, a winger, who came on as a sub, and he scored our 4th goal with about 8 minutes to go! His dad passed away just before he signed for United, so he dedicated his goal to him. Coincidentally, after coming on as a sub, it took him only 7 minutes on the pitch before he scored his goal. Back in 1996-97, a new summer signing also came on as a sub in a home game, albeit against Blackburn Rovers, and he scored after only 7 minutes on the pitch. That player? Our current manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer! I hope Dan James is going to be as good as the last Welsh winger we had in our first team, a certain Mr Ryan Joseph Giggs…

It was the joint biggest win over Chelsea in a match I have been to. The previous time I saw Manchester United stuff Chelsea 4-0 was 25 years ago at Wembley in the 1994 FA Cup Final! Our first Premier League and FA Cup Double was achieved on 14th May 1994 with a 4-0 thrashing of the London side at the old Wembley Stadium, courtesy of two penalties from Eric Cantona, and goals in open play from Mark Hughes and Brian McClair.

Talking of London, I actually acquired some books in the capital back in June when we went down the day before my mum’s birthday for a visit to Hamley’s and Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s – there were a couple of bookshops at Euston Station, and we had a bit of time before getting our train back to Manchester Piccadilly, so I acquired one novel, Our Stop, by Laura Jane Williams, and two non-fiction books, My Sh*t Therapist, by Michelle Thomas, and Walk the Lines, by Mark Mason. In this book, he sets out to walk the length of the London Underground. I already have a book by the same author, Move Along Please, which I really should get around to reading, lol, and that one is about bus travel.

I think that’s about it for now. Probably covered everything I needed to witter on about. There are now 110 books on the 2019 blog list on List Challenges, so that’s not too bad considering I didn’t even start blogging this year until April, and my lads are off to a winning start as the new season gets under way. I’ve got new specs, Ole’s at the wheel, and all’s well! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Sock – Kim Adrian
  • Eye Chart – William Germano
  • Lost In a Good Game – Pete Etchells
  • Burger – Carol J. Adams
  • Shopping Mall – Matthew Newton
  • A Short History of Drunkenness – Mark Forsyth
  • Don’t You Forget About Me – Mhairi McFarlane
  • I Know This Much Is True – Wally Lamb
  • What’s New, Pussycat? – Alexandra Potter
  • Our Stop – Laura Jane Williams
  • My Sh*t Therapist – Michelle Thomas
  • Walk the Lines – Mark Mason
  • Move Along Please – Mark Mason

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Filed under Books, Childrens' Books, Computer Corner, Food & Drink, Football, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Object Lessons, Ongoing Concerns, Sports, Travel

A Right Spectacle…

Eye Chart Object Lessons book

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Doctor, doctor, I think I need glasses.

You’re dead right, mate! This is a fish and chip shop!

Excuse the bad joke, but it seemed apt, as I need new specs! OK, in my case, I already wear them, and I know to head to an optician’s rather than a chippy, lol, but it all started in the wee small hours, just after midnight, when I had an optical emergency – the left arm came off my glasses! There is no such thing as a good time for your specs to break, but there are some seriously inconvenient times, such as weekends, bank holidays, and stupid o’clock in the morning! I also had a lens fall out of my specs once, when I was at high school, and I was in an English lesson at the time, doing a reading comprehension exercise, so that wasn’t the best time for my specs to be knackered, was it?!

(Weekends aren’t too bad now, as there are places I could go to on Sundays if the breakage were to occur during opening hours. Just that it didn’t. It was silly o’clock.)

The other thing is, that specs were easier to fix back in the day. Dunno how they make them now, but you can’t seem to screw them back together anymore, not certain pairs, anyway, so if an arm breaks off, that’s it, you’re buggered and you need new specs. I don’t have a spare pair. Mum superglued the arm back on, and they are wearable, but I had to phone up my manager and get the day off work so I could go to the optician’s and get this sorted out. She wears specs, too, so I knew she’d be fine about this.

So, the upshot of all this is that your Chief Bookworm has now reached that stage of her life where she needs two pairs of glasses, one for reading and one for distance. Another sign that I am officially middle-aged, I guess! It’ll be brochures for Saga Holidays next, lol! Actually, it probably will, but not for a few more years yet, as you have to be 50 for that! That and the Sun Life guaranteed over 50s plan, ha ha! From 2023, I will have all that kind of spam and junk mail to look forward to, won’t I?!

Anyway, I get to collect my new specs on 9th August, and will be going for them after work, so I just have to put up with these ones, with their non-folding arm, for a week and a bit, and then it’s off to Boots in the Trafford Centre again to pick up my new glasses!

In terms of reading matter, I am still on for Sock, from the Object Lessons books, so no change there, but today’s optical drama has determined my next OL book for when I have finished reading about footwear. I felt that there was really only one relevant book I could choose next… Eye Chart, by William Germano. Could it really have been any other book? Unless there actually is one about specs, but I don’t recall seeing one about glasses, or I would have bought it by now if I had done.

There has been a book on my desk at work for some time. Well, not on my desk, but in a document holder on my desk, and I am not even sure how it got there. Did I pick it out of the book box? Did I put it in the book box in the first place, but then put it on my desk? Or did someone else use my desk and leave it there? Perhaps it was put there while I was off work quite a bit earlier this year due to bereavement? I was off during January, parts of February, and pretty much all of March as I initially went back too soon, and needed to go off again as I wasn’t ready mentally after Dad died. So, quite feasibly, someone could have been using my desk for a bit while I was on sick leave, and picked the book up and put it on the desk meaning to read it… The book is The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, by Joël Dicker. Bit of a chunky one. Does sound interesting, but I’m not sure I’m ready for fiction yet, and, as I said last time, I think I might attempt a return to fiction with some comedy.

As I said in the last blog, I returned to the staff book club at work last week, and we are going to be reading A Taste of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney, but prior to that, the book had been Where My Heart Used to Beat, by Sebastian Faulks. I didn’t get around to reading it, but did manage to get a copy. In fact, I think I got it at the St Thomas’ Church Summer Fair at the end of June when Mum and I were also running a stall. I got quite a few books from the book stall on that fair, about half a dozen, lol! In terms of this blog, I class church fairs in the same category as charity shop bargains, as the books are cheap and sold for a good cause.

One of the other books I bought at that fair in June was Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope, which also has the distinction of being the title of a song by the Pet Shop Boys from their 1992 album, Very. I do recall this being mentioned at the time of the song’s release. Not sure whether the book is any good or not, but I got it quite cheaply, so if I try it and it’s not my cup of tea, I’ve not wasted much dosh.

Marcus Rashford Funko Pop

This is definitely my cup of tea – a Marcus Rashford Funko Pop! Got it earlier today from the Hallowed Ground. We went there as well as the Trafford Centre, as United had asked Mum to prove she’s over 65, even though she’s been over 65 for five years now as she’s just turned 70! So, after we’d been to the ticket office so that they could see that Mum is definitely eligible for her concessionary-price season ticket, we went into the shop, and I found the Funkos. The only issue was that the others they had were Romelu Lukaku who certainly seems to be on his way out, and Alexis Sanchez, and I imagine that he will probably leave too! In the collection of Funkos, the others for United are David de Gea, and Paul Pogba, but those weren’t available. I’d definitely consider buying a DDG Funko, but I don’t know if Pog is staying or going. If they were to make a Juan Mata Funko, I’d buy that, but they haven’t got one of the Special Juan. A glaring omission, if you ask me!

They should do some United old boys as Funkos – especially King Eric with his upturned collar! A Cantona Funko would be awesome! Perhaps even a Fergie Funko, with Sir Alex looking at his watch, lol! Perhaps Teddy and Ole Funkos, as a set, with the Treble trophies… sorry, just getting carried away with United players I’d like to see as Funko Pops!

Back to books now, and I mentioned earlier this year, in my blogs, that I had a book about the Rhine. Which I do. It is The Rhine, by Ben Coates. However, when it comes to European waterways, I actually have THREE books about the Danube! Not kidding, either! If I ever go on a river cruise on the Danube, I will definitely have to read those if I haven’t done so by then. I have Danube, by Claudio Magris, The Danube, by Nick Thorpe, and Danubia, by Simon Winder! I also own Germania, by Simon Winder, and I’ve not read that yet! It is described as “a personal history of Germans ancient and modern” – should be a good read when I eventually get around to it, lol!

See? I told you I was random, didn’t I?! Every now and then, when I realise I’ve acquired a few more followers for this blog, I welcome them to Joanne’s Bookshelf, but warn them that I do tend to waffle on, and go off at tangents, and I also warn them that I witter on about some of the most random books that anyone is ever likely to mention in a blog!

I have been blogging for nearly 9 years now, I started this book blog in August 2010, not long after I had become an auntie to Charlotte. Junior Bookworm has just turned 9 and is still very much an ardent reader. In that time, since my niece arrived in this world, I have blogged about pretty much most literature on here… Novels, novellas, short stories, poetry, plays, literary theory (usually about how boring those particular modules were when I was a student, lol), plenty of subject matters for non-fiction, and plenty of genres for fiction… I have covered everything from books suitable for babies and toddlers right up to books only suitable for adult readers, everything from The Very Hungry Caterpillar through to Venus In Furs, if you like!

Occasionally, I have had themes. I did a blog on football autobiographies once, and early in 2018, to celebrate the Year of the Dog, I did a blog on books with dog-related titles and/or dogs in starring roles for a Chinese New Year special. However, most of the time, my blogs are very random, as this one is, lol! I think one of my favourite themed blogs was the one I did a couple of years ago after getting the idea from a book group post on Facebook. The idea was to go back in time with 12 books to give to your 12 year old self, and I really enjoyed doing that! I think that was in February 2017 if you want to check the archives! I may have called it Back In Time For a Good Read, or something along those lines! Anyway, I take you right back to the summer of 1985 by which time I had clocked up a dozen years on the planet, so if you like books and fancy a bit of time-travel right back to the mid eighties, look that blog up and see which books I chose for the 12 year old version of me!

It’s not quite Back to the Future, there’s no sports car time machine or Marty McFly, lol, but there’s the 1985 FA Cup Final and Live Aid, and me travelling back to my own past with a dozen books for my younger version!

Anyway, the 2019 version of me, the 46 year old bookworm, is now off to get a bit more reading done, lol! Got socks to read about! Until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Sock – Kim Adrian
  • Eye Chart – William Germano
  • The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair – Joël Dicker
  • A Taste of Honey – Shelagh Delaney
  • Where My Heart Used to Beat – Sebastian Faulks
  • Can You Forgive Her? – Anthony Trollope
  • The Rhine – Ben Coates
  • Danube – Claudio Magris
  • The Danube – Nick Thorpe
  • Danubia – Simon Winder
  • Germania – Simon Winder
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
  • Venus in Furs – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

 

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Floating Islands and Local Plays By Local People!

.Floating Island dessert Mauritius 2019

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

That dessert in the photo is the Floating Island I mentioned in my last blog. Mum and I had these at Ponte Vecchio on our first full day at our resort in Mauritius. The usual Grand Port buffet restaurant needed to be closed for some reason, so they opened up the Italian restaurant for lunch, and Mum and I had a lovely meal there, especially this dessert. However, that meant we wanted this dessert again, but it wasn’t on their evening menu, and led to this, which would not be out of place as a Monty Python sketch…

Mum: We would like the Floating Island, please.

Waiter: I’m very sorry, that’s only on our lunch menu.

Mum: When are you open for lunch?

Waiter: We’re not.

See what I mean?! Don’t get me wrong, we did enjoy our accommodation for the most part, but there were some areas for improvement on their part! So, I still think, of all the jollies I’ve ever been on, the El Dorado Seaside Suites on the Riviera Maya in Mexico still tops the list. That’s where we went in 2013, as you may recall, as part of my 40th birthday celebrations that year. I certainly think, for free onsite activities, the Shandrani has plenty going for it. The setting is beautiful too. We were there in their winter, as it’s in the southern hemisphere, so there were some issues with finding one of the restaurants, Le Sirius, when some of the lamps had their timings wrong and were off when it was dark. As I said, I would tell them, if they ask, that we enjoyed it on the whole, but I would give some constructive criticism around areas which need improving.

I did like the Beachcomber travel wallet we got before we went on the holiday, though. That was a lovely touch when our documents came with about a fortnight to go before the hols. I will be using that for future holidays for tickets and stuff!

Let’s get on with some book stuff now, and we can return to jollies later. Sock, from the Object Lessons series, is still an ongoing concern. I get bits read when I’m on my lunch at work. They are only short books, though, so they don’t take too long to read. As the book talks about socks and other similar items of footwear and foot wrapping, it also mentions puttees, which, for me, was a reminder of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. I was reading that back in the day, back in the 1990s, and got halfway through it, my bookmark is still in there between pages 206 and 207, but I don’t know what happened, perhaps I got distracted by other things and haven’t finished it off. I should do, but part of me wonders if I need to re-read up to that point to refresh myself of what happened, as it’s been a bloody long time!

As I recall, I was enjoying it at the time, although I had to look a lot of things up, especially Greek words! I have been to a couple of Greek islands since then, though, so that may help, although I’ve not been to Kefalonia, which is where this novel is actually set. I have been to Santorini, which is beautiful and I would recommend it to anyone, and also to Kos for the day when we were on holiday in Turkey. The novel was hugely popular back then, seemed like everyone was reading it at that time! It appealed to me on the music front.

As we’re on books I’ve had for ages, here we have one that I’ve had for quite some time, although not as long as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Have any of you read this one?

English Passengers Matthew Kneale

We have English Passengers, by Matthew Kneale. Published in 2000, so it’s more recent, only 19 years old, lol, and I’m not sure I’ve had it a full 19 years. On the back of my copy is a price sticker for £1.00, so I got it from a charity shop when I bought it, I didn’t pay the full £8.99 that was the RRP when it came out and is stated on the back of the book. Obviously, something appealed to me at the time when I bought it, but it has been around amongst my TBR Library for some time and has not yet been read. OK, the same can be said of a lot of books, lmao, but for some reason, this one does keep catching my eye and sticks out as a Book I’ve Had For Donkey’s Years But Not Read Yet!

I’ve still not read any fiction this year, just been poetry and non-fiction, but I went back to the staff book club at work the other day, and our next book is actually a play, so we have drama on the cards here!

The last time I studied a play, I was at university, so it’s a pretty long time ago as I graduated 25 years ago! My final year dissertation was about plays, as it was on the theme of lies and liars in the plays of Henrik Ibsen. I know two of the three plays I based my thesis on were A Doll’s House and The Pillars of Society. I think the other one may have been The Wild Duck.

However, the book club reading matter is rather closer to home. In fact, I doubt it could be any more local than A Taste of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney! Delaney wrote this play when she was only 19 years old. She was from Salford, from the Broughton area, and the play is also set here. I know this might make me sound like those two weirdo shopkeepers from The League of Gentlemen, but A Taste of Honey really is a local play by a local person! I may even see if there’s any performances on YouTube as I think you really need to see a performance if you’re studying a play. It does help. You are reading something which is meant to be acted out.

Just pulled a book out of my purple Kipling bag. All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque. I had started reading that last year, given that 2018 was 100 years since the end of the First World War. I got myself a new handbag though, so changed over to that mostly. My current bag fits the Object Lessons books, but I would need to go back to bigger handbags, really to start having Handbag Books again, or take them with me in an extra bag. That has been known. Maybe I should start a Backpack Books list? I have a Hogwarts backpack that I bought myself not long ago for the trip up to North Shields with Salford Steel, so sometimes I take that with me to places as well as my handbag, and there are often books in my backpack! Sometimes I set off with them, sometimes I come home with them!

Just how bloody hot was it on Thursday?! It was crazy! I would love to know what temperatures it reached in Salford and Manchester on Thursday, because it was still bloody boiling even in the evening! After work, I went into town for an event organised by Cruse – UK readers may know of Cruse, they’re an organisation who provide bereavement support, and this was a group for adults who have lost a parent. The meet up was at Manchester Central Library, and by the time it was over, I came out of the library around quarter to eight in the evening and it was still absolutely boiling! Then I crossed the tram lines and went to Wagamama to eat. Came out of there around an hour later… still pretty damn warm! Quarter to nine at night and still ridiculous temperatures! If it weren’t for the familiar surroundings, I would have questioned if I was in Manchester! Perhaps it was a parallel Manchester, but with hot weather?! It certainly wasn’t the usual weather for my neck of the woods, lol!

When I had got to town from Swinton on the bus, I had time for a quick visit to Waterstone’s before heading to the event, and purchased a copy of A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole – the edition with the red cover and yellow hot dogs on it – I love that cover, and believe the book is meant to be very funny. If I am going to get back into fiction, I think I want something that’s going to give me a good laugh! Actually, when I looked it up on Amazon just now, there was a glowing review of it by Sir Billy Connolly, who said it was his favourite book of all time, and I think you all know I’ve been a big fan of the Big Yin for donkey’s years! My all-time favourite comedian.

I have actually got his Made in Scotland book, which I started a while ago, so I can continue with that, but that’s not fiction, so wouldn’t get me back into made up stuff.

On the List Challenges list for this blog, I now have 82 different books listed for the things I’ve mentioned so far this year on my blogs, which means we’re into our third page in terms of published lists. When a list is published, there are 40 items to a page. Given that I didn’t start blogging this year until April, that’s not too bad, really. This list is going to be shorter than usual, I suspect, but probably as random as ever! We have poetry, plays, books about the art of not giving a f**k, children’s books, historical fiction, science fiction, books about medical conditions and disabilities, autobiographies, object lessons, travel, and books about books! Bit of young adult, too. My lists have a lot of random stuff on them. I am a very random person. You might have noticed, lol!

You may recall from previous blogs, way back in 2012, after the London Olympics and Paralympics, that I put a photo up of me with a gold postbox. I think I did, anyway. Royal Mail painted postboxes gold up and down the UK in places of significance relating to athletes who won gold for Great Britain in those home Games, and we have one in Salford in honour of Dame Sarah Storey, the cyclist who won multiple golds in the Paralympics that summer. I think she won 4 golds if I remember rightly.

Anyway, Royal Mail have now painted some other postboxes white with cricket bats and stumps to celebrate England’s victories in the Cricket World Cups for our women’s team in 2017 and our men’s team this year, and as Old Trafford, Lancashire’s ground, was a host venue, there is a celebratory postbox in town. Possibly there isn’t a postbox near the cricket ground itself, maybe there is, but there is now a cricket-themed postbox in town and I saw it on Thursday night, so I thought you might like to see it. I’ve only read one book that’s cricket-related, but that was the hilarious Penguins Stopped Play, by Harry Thompson! I definitely recommend it. Even if you’re not into cricket, it is so funny! It is on my list of books which made me laugh my arse off while reading them!

Another funny book I can recommend, one that I read a couple of years ago now, is Round Ireland With a Fridge, by Tony Hawks. I remembered it again recently because of Mr Hawks’ previous claim to fame before he became a published writer… as a pop star, albeit a one hit wonder. He and a couple of mates teamed up in the late eighties and, under the name of Morris Minor and the Majors, reached number 4 in the UK singles charts in early 1988 with a comedy rap hit called Stutter Rap (No Sleep ‘Til Bedtime), a send-up of the likes of the Beastie Boys who were hugely popular back in 1987-88! As BBC4 shows old Top of the Pops on Friday nights, they’d got to the stage where it was late 1987 and early 1988, and this song was being performed on the show on some of the TOTPs that I had recorded and watched on my Sky+ box, and that reminded me that this was the first bit of fame enjoyed by Tony Hawks before his writing career!

Incidentally, BBC4 are now up to April 1988 in terms of Top of the Pops, and thus Heart by the Pet Shop Boys is number 1, so I was a very happy bunny watching it last night! The main reason I was particularly keen on watching the shows from December 1987 and into January 1988 was that Always On My Mind was number 1 for four weeks, so I was basically watching those shows because of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe! There were other good tunes as well, including Stutter Rap, which was quite witty for a daft novelty record, but I admit I was watching because I’m a PSB fan!

So, what other things have I bought recently on the book front? There’s Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch, and the much talked-about Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. Feels like every book group on Facebook mentions that novel! Perhaps I should see what it’s like? I’m not really one for much talked about books, but then a lot of those seem to be crime thrillers, so that’s not really my genre anyway. This seems a bit more general fiction even if there is crime and mystery in it.

Wonder what the Booker Prize nominations are for this year? I tend to find winners of such prizes off-putting. I did enjoy Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, but I’ve attempted one or two others that have won the Booker Prize, and didn’t get very far with them. Found myself plodding and wondering if the plot was going to get moving at all! It was The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, that I found hard-going, and I did swap my original copy at a pub restaurant some years ago in exchange for Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, which I loved! I did get another copy of The Luminaries, though, thinking I might try it again, as I was having a book slump at the time we attempted it for our book group.

Well, the list on List Challenges is now up to 89 books, lol! I think that’s about it for now! More about books, holidays and other waffle coming soon, but until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Sock – Kim Adrian
  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières
  • English Passengers – Matthew Kneale
  • A Doll’s House – Henrik Ibsen
  • The Pillars of Society – Henrik Ibsen
  • The Wild Duck – Henrik Ibsen
  • A Taste of Honey – Shelagh Delaney
  • All Quiet On the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
  • A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
  • Made in Scotland – Sir Billy Connolly
  • Penguins Stopped Play – Harry Thompson
  • Round Ireland With a Fridge – Tony Hawks
  • Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch
  • Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
  • Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  • The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier

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Towels, Tigers, Travel and Tortoises

Towel Day

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Happy Towel Day to all you hoopy froods out there! We’ve actually got some new towels in our bathroom recently. Dark teal ones, really gorgeous shade. So, yes, I’m a frood who knows where our towels are! For those who are unfamiliar with the works of the late great Douglas Adams, I am making reference to the legendary work of science fiction humour that is The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. As 25th May was Douglas’ birthday when he was still with us, it has been declared Towel Day in his honour since he passed away.

Sadly, while on the subject of authors no longer with us, Judith Kerr passed away earlier this week, aged 95. She is particularly famous for her children’s books, one of the best known ones for young readers being The Tiger Who Came to Tea. One of those books my sister and I enjoyed when we were kids and my niece has enjoyed it too in recent years. Charlotte, the Junior Bookworm, is quite into David Walliams books these days, and has recently been laughing her way through Fing. According to my sister, Charlotte had already started reading it in Waterstone’s and had got through the first three chapters in the book shop! You know it’s a good book when you haven’t even left the store and you’re already well into it!

You won’t be at all surprised to learn that I was at Waterstone’s earlier today. Let’s face it,  you’d be more gobsmacked if I hadn’t been, lol! The big one in town, on Deansgate. I wanted some more of those Object Lessons books – you will recall in a recent blog that I bought and read Souvenir, by Rolf Potts, and I wanted more from the same series about items which interested me, so I will be mentioning those shortly. I also got some books from HMV this afternoon. Yes, I know, it’s ostensibly a record shop, or that’s what it’s famous for, but they do have books and usually on offer.

As you know, my dad passed away in January. I used to get him HMV gift cards for Christmas, I had been doing this for some time. However, he hadn’t got round to using the last two I’d got him, and Mum found them amongst his stuff the other day. I got them checked out before I bought anything and, yes, they were both still valid and with a tenner on each. I have now spent one, on some books, but I still have one to use.

Books bought 25th May 2019

Book haul from HMV and Waterstone’s.

The three at the bottom, plus White Teeth, by Zadie Smith, were from HMV, and the other five were from Waterstone’s. I did toy with getting myself another copy of Not Dead Yet, by Phil Collins, and I still might. I had read that the other year when Sarah lent me her copy. I then found a paperback edition last summer for a quid at a charity shop in Wales when I went to Conwy and Llandudno for the day in August. I then lent that copy to my dad as I thought he would enjoy it.

Although we got a lot of his stuff after he died, my Phil Collins book wasn’t amongst the belongings. It doesn’t really matter as I have read the book, but it would have been nice to have got it back anyway!

Obviously, with having my ups and downs, I am not doing the Goodreads Challenge this year, as I mentioned in a previous blog. I only just started reading again in April. Book slump, followed by bereavement, meant that I hadn’t finished a book since the end of November, until April this year. I have now finished my fifth book of the year, though, as I finished off You Do You, by Sarah Knight while I was on my lunch at work the other day! It’s the second book I have read by this writer, as I previously read and enjoyed The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k the other year.

I am very near to my sixth book, too, as I am almost at the end of the ebook version of The Girl With the Curly Hair, by Alis Rowe. You may well know her from Facebook and other forms of social media. She has Asperger’s Syndrome, so she’s on the autistic spectrum, and posts about life on the spectrum from her own experiences and in order to help others – both those with the conditions and those without. Having an invisible health issue myself, my lifelong dodgy thyroid, plus being introverted and having my run-ins with depression from time to time, there is a lot I can relate to when Alis posts on FB, so I downloaded her book on my Kindle. Other than that she is an early bird and I’m a night owl, I feel there’s a lot of cross-over and stuff in common.

I would like to get to double figures in books read by the end of the year. I know that’s a low target, but I don’t care. I also don’t care if nearly all the books I read this year are non-fiction. I have read a couple of poetry anthologies, too, but I’ve not finished any novels yet, and the books on the horizon for being finished look like being factual stuff, too. I’ve still got the book about Ole on the go, so a biography will add to the non-fiction list once that’s been read.

Anyway, as I said a few paragraphs ago, lol, I bought some more of those Object Lessons books when I was at Waterstone’s earlier. Given my impending jollies, Luggage, by Susan Harlan, was an obvious choice! I’d bought a book about souvenirs, I might as well buy one about suitcases, lol! The other two OL books are about relevant items to me due to being a bookworm and a music nut, as they are Bookshelf, by Lydia Pyne, and Personal Stereo, by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow.

Sony launched their first-ever Walkman portable personal cassette player in 1979, so it’s the 40th anniversary this year. I had a couple of personal stereos, not branded ones, since the mid 80s, getting the first one when I was 12. I think it was for Christmas in 1985, so, yes I would have been 12. I got another at about 15, but it was in 1989, ten years after Sony launched the first model, that I saved up and bought myself a Sony Walkman. One with MegaBass, in my case, and that really served me well in the early 90s when I was a student and commuting to Bolton and back on the bus for the three years of my degree at uni! Pretty sure I still have that Walkman, and that it’s in the garage. Might even still work if fresh batteries were put in it! We still have some tapes in the garage, so if my Walkman does work, I would have something to play them on, lol!

In the past 30 years, though, audio technology has changed. I went from a Walkman and tapes to a portable CD player, and also MiniDiscs at one point, and an MP3 player, and then, of course, an iPod, and in recent times the advent of having my music on my phone so that everything is on the same device and I would notice if someone was trying to ring me while I was listening to some tunes! My tastes in music haven’t changed much, just how I listen to my favourite songs! I’m listening to music digitally, on my mobile phone, when I’m on the bus or tram, but it’s pretty much the same stuff I loved to listen to on tapes back in the day! Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, and pretty much most other 80s music, especially the synth stuff! Human League, Depeche Mode, New Order, Soft Cell, Ultravox, OMD, etc…

Tortoise, by Peter Young, is not from the same series, not an Object Lessons book, but it is from a series about different animals. I am hoping to see some giant tortoises when I’m on my holidays, so that’s why I bought the book, in case you were wondering! No, I don’t have one as a pet. I don’t have any pets. Lots of music by the Pet Shop Boys, but no pets, lol! The only time we had any pets, temporarily, was when my sister and I were at primary school and we looked after Sooty, one of the nursery class’s guinea pigs, during school holidays. We did that a few times, particularly when Ellie was in the nursery.

Well, that’s about it for now, I think, so have the rest of a Happy Towel Day, fellow froods, and I shall be back again some time soon! Might not be this side of my jollies, but I will be around again before too long! Take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea – Judith Kerr
  • Fing – David Walliams
  • Souvenir – Rolf Potts
  • White Teeth – Zadie Smith
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • You Do You – Sarah Knight
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k – Sarah Knight
  • The Girl With the Curly Hair – Alis Rowe
  • Ole – Ian MacLeay
  • Luggage – Susan Harlan
  • Bookshelf – Lydia Pyne
  • Personal Stereo – Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow
  • Tortoise – Peter Young

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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

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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