Reading time has been rather gobbled up.
I may have selected this based on a subconscious connection with grass and the breaking of impenetrable sod:
Somehow I have managed to miss reading it down all the years; meeting as an adult, it raised quite a few questions. One concerns the apparently reckless way the father takes his family off on a dangerous journey. We have gone soft now. Or perhaps it didn’t seem as dangerous, when any life was dangerous – even staying tucked into the most secure and prosperous home could not protect you from the epidemics of infectious disease which cut swathes through many a family. Or perhaps pressure of poverty was strong enough to drive the migrants on. Then there’s the way Ingalls apparently makes the decisions without input from his wife (ah the good old days – ‘she for god in him’ etc.) And worst, of course, are the passages dealing with the native Americans. Ingalls is portrayed as liberal, humane, but assumes that the western country is his to take because the inhabitants “weren’t using it”, and he is furious when, having illegally moved into Indian reservation land, he and other settlers were required to leave “their” farms. Ugly.
Then there is this delicate little sippet of a book.
Ah, the pure sensory pleasure of its satiny dust jacket, the smooth crispness of the coated paper, the careful balance of text and image, the reposeful colours, the spine coherent without wilful springiness, the clean smell rising from every page turn. This made it quite difficult to concentrate on the actual subject matter, but it too was charming in its miscellany of science, technology, art and history, and although the coverage is very slight, there’s a further reading list handy at the back.
One phrase, though originally intended to be satirical, spoke truth to me as an observer: Thomas Tomkis in 1615 characterised a telescope as “an engine to catch starres”.
Demanding day alternately digging in overgrown veg patch and digging in thickets of theology.
(Puts head down on laptop and becomes comatose.)
Well first, there were two slow-worms in the compost bin, basking under the heat-trap plastic covers. This is the younger of the two.
Then the violets are spreading ever further about the grass at the back – fully justifying my failure to mow regularly, as evidently they are having the chance to set and distribute seed. The camera even caught some of the colour today, instead of rendering it a mere blue.
And I settled down to a treat. I saw a copy of this at Sarum College and became both besotted and acquisitive. (Thank goodness for online second hand bookshops.) Not a facsimile, of course, just a reprint; coping with all that black letter would be a challenge too far. We owe some wonderful English to Tyndale as his work was so extensively pinched for the Authorised Version not many years later,
but the prologues are improbably fascinating in themselves, documents to the fermenting Reformation then in progress. You can quite see why prologues, marginalia, and glosses were subsequently forbidden to be included, and are still omitted from most Bibles to this day.
I haven’t managed to catch Fluffers getting on to this perch, and I want to know how she does it. She doesn’t have normal feathers and hardly any wings; when she gets down from the chair she falls more than flies, landing with a big dump; how does she fly up accurately and perch?
Nonetheless: there she is. Sleep well, Fluffers.
I passed Winchester’s ancient gate (bit of a lump)
to make significant custard
and play cribbage. Don’t think I’ve seen two players have identical hands in the same round before (though one of these got one-for-his-knob).
These simple pleasures were made possible by the NHS staff, who, with their usual aplomb, briskly excised the very nasty appendix of a nearestanddearest. Bless them. It’s hard to regret The Old Days, knowing that there was no NHS in them.
Hmm. Seems you can’t use italics in a blog post title. Please take them as read between * and *.
See? They are even on the cover.
It’s a long time since I was so comprehensively annoyed by typography. The excessive use of inverted commas sometimes makes it difficult to tell if they are random noise or indicate a genuine quotation. And then there are the italicised words plopped without apparent purpose into every sentence. And the capitals. Add to this the authorial voice, at once matey and preachy…. all so distracting that I found it almost impossible to grasp the content. Whatever happened to formal prose? I wish he had had a strong-minded editor.
I developed a technique for following the argument, in the end. This consisted of hopping briskly from one quotation to another, like stepping from tussock to tussock in a bog. Luckily the quotations were numerous and often full, so I read a certain amount of Buber, Tracy, Arendt, Schillebeeckx, Derrida, and such, and the merest modicum of Veling.
The prose came alive once, though. Veling gives an account of a time when he attempted to actually apply his practical theology in a tricky social situation. “No miracle of peace occurred”, he notes sadly. Yep. Ain’t that the truth.
They have reached W now. Hurray!
In another vein, I found this little treasure.
I expect everyone else knows about Tan, but I didn’t. Grandpa’s story had great charm, and Night of the turtle rescue was brief and bold (and tough). But I think my favourite was Distant rain, about the reciprocal gravity of unread poems; close to my heart.
It is a little-known fact that you can wash books. With persistence, you can wash an entire library. The spirit does groan a little at the prospect, however.
Can’t make them new, but at least they can be clean.
I procrastinate before jumping, but, once in, the water is fine.
Returning to Treharne’s lovely fat anthology, I’ve reached the Old English Judith. It took a while to read this relatively short poem. I’m not fluent enough to cope on my own, but have to crib from the parallel translation, which requires protracted eye-swivelling between pages (ow!). Also, there is not always a one-to-one verbal correspondence between each line of the two renderings, so if it isn’t obvious which OE word means what, one must have recourse to a dictionary. Luckily there are several online, though not always easy for a novice to find what is required.
Worth the bother? Oh yes. Especially if you like alliteration and onomatopoeia and polysyllables. And sounding the final e.
bealde byrnwiggende bold mail-coated warriors
hloh ond hlydde, hlynede ond dynede he laughed and got loud, roared and clamoured
wundenlocc braided hair
Obviously from now on part of my morning routine will involve doing my wundenlocc; but top favourite today was hildenædran. Turns out that nædre means snake or viper, so perhaps we should say ‘a nadder’ rather than ‘an adder’. Also turns out that hildenædran are war vipers = arrows. Got to love those Anglo-Saxons.
And the poem? Well, there’s a splendid dramatic irony as the Assyrians booze themselves drunk and incapable, while Judith, decorated with bracelets and rings, is brought to the intending rapist’s bed; and yes, a certain admiration, as she coolly arranges Holofernes’ neck so she can take a really good swing at him. So I read Judith once, and then went to Michael Drout’s Anglo-Saxon Aloud website, following the written poem again while he pronounced it, with the thespian relish those lovely vowels deserve.
Still sifting the library, knee deep in small children and the hideously-accumulated errors of the catalogue. No doubt I am adding yet another set of inconsistencies and typos.
The errors pursued me into the picayune literary magazine which is in editing, and throve exceedingly. So preoccupied did I become with formatting (but how did that paragraph get condensed?) that I mislaid an apostrophe. Oh the shame. And now it is too late, I see yet another formatting error. Luckily the infants will not know that a specific word was meant to be bolded. Stop fussing, stupid: time for the blind man on a galloping horse to be invoked.