Category Archives: Paper

Three Judiths


A nostalgia piece really, or an introductory text for those of us who weren’t there for steam trains or WWII.  The details are interesting, though excessive use of the words ‘hero’ and ‘heroic’ is always to be reprehended; in a properly narrated story, the reader will be quite aware of courage without having to be told, and there was a lot of it about at the time.

Then there are the three Judiths.  Biblical Judith is pink and there is a lot more of her; Middle English Metrical Judith is yellow, and is both selective and inventive; and Old English Judith is green, and unfortunately missing her first section, so we are not exactly comparing like with like.  The point is to clarify what was left out, what was included, and what was made up as additional story elements in the re-tellings.  Hmmm.


Nest building


Returning from the home patch to find a peculiar and unsettling incident going on in Salisbury, of all unlikely places.  Apart from the usual sticky-beaks, most people are going about their business, though at times with rather raised eyebrows, as indeed I am doing myself.

Nest building continues.  I love charity shops.

Meantime I am reading the story of Judith in the Middle English Metrical Paraphrase of the Old Testament.  Spelling Nebuchadnezzar as ‘Nabogodhonosour’ is genius.  And ‘pupplysch’ is an excellent word.  And it was written by a proto-feminist, which can’t necessarily be said of the biblical source:

Thei say, “We wott we have yt wun
with wyll of God and wyt of thee.”

Enough to think about for now.

Shopping for symbols


I wandered into town looking for such comestibles as were necessary for dinner.  Being perverse, charity shops were my first destinations, to pick out a couple of books – standbys in this bookless house.

With even greater perversity, the Hunt for the Teapot took over the morning.  Charity shops failed me on this one.  A fearfully cute little pot I found in one place must, on closer inspection, have been given to the charity shop because, at any attempt to use it, the lid would have dropped out and showered the user with scalding tea.  The Hunt took me to supermarkets, cheap shops, ironmongers and at last an expensive cookware shop; where I found a gratifying bargain and concluded the Hunt.

The teapot, though not glamorous in any way, asserted its symbolic value as soon as I got back.  And I am already becoming intimate with the tablecloth.

Eighteen thousand steps


… which is enough for a person of a certain age, especially when quite a few of them were up hill (and equally painfully, down hill) even with some youthful assistance in the traction department.

Thus sausage and lentil soup among the distinctly original, massive and wonky half-timbering was quite a Cunning Plan, which fortified us for the main Cunning Plan.  I approve automatically of any food establishment which runs its own bring-and-share book shelf, though I would probably eschew most of these titles.

Not ready for it


I’d had enough grim, so the next audiobook was selected for harmlessness.

It is true that Lady Flora Hastings’ fate was bitter, but the tale of George Eliot’s perhaps unladylike hand is innocuous, it was amusing to see Hughes get Darwin’s beard entangled in a compromise of the scientific principle, and the story of Fanny Cornforth is no more than louche.  I therefore walked unprepared into the account of the Fanny Adams murder case which concludes the book.  It’s not something I’d heard of before, and to be honest I wish I hadn’t heard it now, especially late in the evening; it needed quite a sweetener to take the taste away.



… with relief.  Apparently some of the metaphors played 🙂  And the bits that wouldn’t go into the suitcase don’t seem to have been too disastrous, leaving me a respectable % – quite pleasing, considering it’s twenty years since the last bout of academic prose.  On to the next…

Half an ear


On a quiet day I indulged in the traditional holiday jigsaw:

This allowed me to listen to the non-traditional grim audiobook.  Complicated, and it would have made more sense if I had put a map in front of me, but then I would have had to listen properly.  A story so appalling can sometimes only be taken in with half an ear.


On not doing Christmas shopping


I have left the snowflakes behind, supplied the mice in the attic with a treacherous Christmas dinner (O please not rats), and may or may not have locked the back door.  The shops in Salisbury are much better than those at home, but there are ways of not shopping, thus:

First go to the local library to look at the Kathe Kollwitz exhibition, and look very carefully at her looking very carefully at herself.

Then go to St Thomas’ and contemplate the Doom painting.

After this, proceed through the darkening crowded streets and brightly lighted shops, solitary, disorientated, and immune to temptation, and purchase one spoon.

Returning, I finished reading a book which in some places became a time machine

and now I have to choose the next title from a selection.  One for night and one for day.