Monthly Archives: November 2015

Ill omened



It was well done; but I did feel that the film had exaggerated the novel’s resemblances to Jane Eyre.  Of course du Maurier was influenced by Brontë;  but even if she had chopped off one of Max de Winter’s arms and poked his eyes out (and let’s face it, Charlotte Brontë would think it served him right) these would still be two very different novels.  Du Maurier does not have the same moral compass, let alone any appeal to a just deity;  the result is that the resolution of Rebecca is much darker and more ambiguous than Jane Eyre.  Perhaps the team producing the TV version could not cope with so much nihilism, and tried to graft on an allusion to the older novel to make their ending more cheerful than it is on the page.

I was sustained in the writing of this post by a monumental Bath bun.  How I am to accommodate any dinner is as yet a puzzle.

Things to do when you can’t sleep: lviii


lviii  :  Be antisocial

A very wordy week.  Hypervigilant after an evening of close textual analysis of a story about digging up a hand, I self-medicated:  popcorn as a soporific.


I had forgotten that this modest gadget howls like a jet engine preparing for take-off.  I wonder if it frightened the neighbours.

2 popped

On potting


One from the book rummage:  published in 1976, and transcribing recorded interviews with studio potters of that time.


The potters’ comments range from the bluntly practical, through poetic, to posy.  Favourites:-

Sven Bayer describes what it is like to look into his wood-fired climbing kiln during a firing: “Then, when it is really burning well and getting enough oxygen, the temperature rises and suddenly the whole thing clears up with very ghostly whisps of turquoise, blue and white.”

Alan Caiger-Smith on the problem of customer commissions:  “… people may ask for painted plates, when we know very well that certain kinds of painting are likely to get confused with sausages, gravy or bacon, and people might try to get their forks into the brush strokes.”

Ian Godfrey on his working life:  “Apart from the fact that it is complete agony some of the time, the making of pots is a wonderful way of being employed.”

Bryan Newman on failing to realise his dreams:  “… the thing I feel missing from my life is a tile panel a hundred feet high …”

Peter Starkey on fulfilment:  “As a child, I was always in trouble for lighting fires; now I can indulge myself entirely.”

Yeap Po Chap on finding a vocation:  “I … was a useless human being until I discovered clay about fourteen years ago.”

I was also very taken with Elizabeth Fritsch’s description of using decoration to create work in two-and-a-half dimensions.

But some sort of prize has to go to Alan Barrett-Danes commenting on his ceramic cabbages with faces:  “When I made eyes that were bleeding, it all became too obvious. … What I am going to do now I have no idea.  I have said all I can say through the cabbage-heads …”

(It might be the booby prize though.)

Guilty excess


Waking early, there was a wonderful sky, the gibbous moon well out of the way and Venus and Jupiter doing their stuff, with Arcturus, Spica, Mars and Regulus for company.  I ventured out into the icy dark with a new toy.  Going shopping for binoculars a few weeks ago sapped my moral fibre, and I bought yet another pair, which is excess indeed.

1 guilt

These do look odd.  This is because they are Pentax close focus binos – the ability to focus at 50cm giving them a slightly cross-eyed look.  The objectives are about 20mm I think, magnification 6.5.  I was sold on the description of them as a kind of field microscope to look at insects without getting close enough to frighten them away, or paintings and architectural features which as a tourist one can’t see properly.  Of course I was going to try them out on astronomy, for which they are definitely not intended.  Their images were feeble compared with the 7x50s, which I don’t hold against them, but both pairs seemed to be generating internal reflections when Venus and Jupiter were in the field of view – disappointing.  It was less of an issue with stars.

I retired to the electric blanket (providently turned on when I got up) still wearing all my clothes, including hat, and shivering, while I finished Stuff Matters.  The speed with which I got through this one indicates rather slight content, definitely at the popular end of popular science.  I would have liked more about the exotic materials with which I am unfamiliar, such as aerogel.  The chapter on why chocolate is so entirely addictive was good, and Miodownik gave a nice sense of the way the substance of clay changes when it is fired.

2 light weight

Yesterday I ignored some seductive sunshine as there was a fairly brutal north wind to go with it.  Today was calmer, and I took the Pentax to the beach for testing.  Hardly butterfly weather, and the birds had all decamped inland, so I practised on the rocks and shells at my feet, which came up in startling detail.  Must remember not to look at any spiders with the binos; I might have hysterics.  They worked well as a compact binocular for cliffs and surfers too, with a smooth focus wheel to move easily between near and far.  And light – very easy to use one-handed or for long observations.  Roll on those butterflies.

Blue sea and sky, with the sun shining through the incoming waves

3 blue

revealing the sand sucked up into their tummies as they approached the beach

4 sand

and lighting them up to the palest and most elegant jade green

5 green waved

with the orderly serries coming on behind them.

6 serries

Soon the light was going:  a very satisfactory sky and sea scape.

7 scape

Now I am going to eat rocket and lemon risotto.

In the gloom


Another dark and heavy day.  (Click for the gallery.)

Things to do when you can’t sleep: lvi


lvi : Tackle your drafts

Namely, the hesitant scribbles, notes, odd lines roughed out in the notebook.  This does not promote sleep  – quite the contrary – but you may at least get the odd verse out of it.  In this case: on bookmarks, on weather, on looking in the mirror.

Now at least try to go to bed, stupid.

Peopled out


Back from the writing weekend.  Not sure that I enjoyed it as much as the contemplation through photography session back in the summer, but the tutor was well organised and also kept her half-trained and wholly miscellaneous team quite well in hand – at least, they certainly never bolted with her.  And the commitment to attend made me pick up a pencil and drop into poetry with a vengeance, which was after all the main point of the exercise.

There wasn’t much time to get about in Salisbury and the weather was mis, but the cathedral came in handy.

Home; and for the first time this winter lit a fire, which burned awkwardly as if it was out of practice, and then roared up the chimney.

(Click a thumbnail for the gallery)




So here we are: twelve women and two men, wildly various, signed up to spend the weekend “in search of a feminist theological poetics”. I am watching the tutor with a fascinated eye as she undertakes this project. And I have brought my knitting in case I really want to stir things up a bit.