All in a day’s work

Morning. I’ve dropped the girls off at school. I get to work, using the side gate into the site. A magical winter wonderland scene : deer tracks in the snow, no other sign of life. Trees eerily quiet on either side of me as I make the first footsteps in the powdery snow. I’m pretty much the first one at the office, as I live within walking distance… (I know, luxury in any weather.) Work.

Lunchtime. I decide to pop back home quickly to fetch the camera. Spend ten minutes taking more pictures of our garden. Had taken some this morning but it was with a flash and it was snowing (quite fun photos actually, might do for next year’s home made Christmas card…) Get back to the office and take loads of pictures of the park. The light is beautiful, there is plenty of sunshine, but not the harsh light you sometimes get with snow. Work.

Afternoon. A robin just outside my window makes me reach for the camera again. It’s Christmas-card perfect, feathers puffed out to protect it from the cold, perched on a snowy branch. There are usually blue tits out there too, but today I saw a wren instead. Carry on working.

Walk to the girls’ school and pick them up from after-school activities a bit earlier than usual, so that we can all avoid freezing too much, as the temperature drops quickly after the sun sets. Make a detour on my way out from my office to take more photos of the park. It’s quite dark already, although the days are getting a little longer now. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue wafts from the piano in the foyer of our conference centre. It is being played by two physicists, who like to give short concerts on such occasions as the Christmas staff do and they are rehearsing this year’s piece. I’m pretty sure they could both make a living from piano playing equally well as from researching gravitational waves and what have you…

Some days are good.

Sorry, just wanted to gloat.

What I read in November and December 2009

The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This was one of my first Kindle content purchases and I really really enjoyed it, which is a lot more than can be said of:

Midnight in Madrid by Noel Hynd, which I don’t think I’m going to finish.

I selected them using a lazy but simple criterion: they were both high up in the Amazon fiction bestseller rankings. I ended up being delighted by the one and very disappointed by the other.

Somewhere along the middle of that loved/hated spectrum was my third Kindle purchase: A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore. I really liked bits of it, but I didn’t enjoy the feeling I got that there were several pretty unconnected stories going on here.

Les contes de la Bécasse de Guy de Maupassant que j’ai lus plusieurs fois – la première fois en cours de français en 4ème ou en 3ème, c’est à dire il y a une éternité, et je les ai relus depuis plusieurs fois, pour resavourer (si c’est le terme) la cruauté si bien vue.

The lost symbol by Dan Brown. Mmmm, well, maybe the breathless dash through a city solving clues is reaching its limit as a concept here; it was pretty obvious to me where Robert Langdon and his equally dim female acolyte of the moment should be heading for from the start! And I probably missed the whole deep philosophical point the book was perhaps trying to make, but I got a real “so what?” feeling at the end of the book and felt completely cheated out of a decent thriller ending. Sorry, Mr Brown, not your best effort by a long chalk.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. A lovely cozy read.

Dial M for Merde by Stephen Clarke – much like the others by him. I would probably enjoy these books more if the Paul West character (and the author?) didn’t make it quite so clear he thought he was God’s gift to all women…

What I read in September and October 2009

White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. Gripping and disturbing. I hope his depiction of India is a deliberately shocking one…I would like an Indian person’s opinion on how much of an exaggeration it represents. Mind you, if 10% is true to life, it’s pretty dire anyway…

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. I would have been a lot more entertained by this classic children’s book, for which I had high hopes, if sailing or boats held any real interest for me… Recently, there was quite a lot in the news of Ransome’s life as a spy. I enjoyed reading about that rather more than reading this book. Malcolm Saville was seen as following on from Arthur Ransome but he is to my mind a much more exciting children’s book writer. Mind you, I’ve read dozens of Malcolm Saville’s books and only one of Arthur Ransome’s…

Les champs d’honneur by Jean Rouaud. Not sure about this one. Some of the descriptions were a bit wordy, but I didn’t mind that too much, or the rather disjointed construction, even though I kept losing track of who Joseph was. It’s just that I couldn’t be bothered to go back and check how he related to everyone.

Mr Pip by Lloyd JonesMmm. OK but not a gripping read. The rhythm picked up at the end when the violence, which was clearly latent throughout the story, started. Although the book had its moments for me, overall, my impression was that it was a bit flat and colourless.

Oedipe roi by Sophocle
Ah, the force of destiny.

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