I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem.
Well, here it is – dressed up for its first role as the Magic Tree, lots of leaves (not quite a billion but somewhere around a thousand by my reckoning) and some lovely fruit (you must particularly remember the pineapple and the bananas, Best Beloved) provided by the person whose tree it really is and who spent a very long time getting the pineapple and the bananas right. And now it has been taken apart and taken away to be sung about and the space where it was looks enormous and empty and I have to get on with real life again which feels a bit sad, like the end of the holidays.
Maybe it’s time to get the knitting out again or cwtch up with a good book. I finally finished ‘Anna Karenina’ the other day, I have been reading it since August (which to put into perspective is longer than the time that I managed to keep Tiny inside me before she was born) and that is a long time to being reading a book! But I really enjoyed it despite reading it in snippets here and there or whilst being climbed on during other people’s swimming lessons or a sneaky couple of pages too early in the morning. It is about a load of people and how their lives are tangled up and what they think about things. I did write a pile of waffle about why I liked it but it was too waffley and boring and long and I remembered why I studied maths and not literature – I like books (once during reading week when I was leaving the college library with about eight novels under my arm the librarian said, ‘We’re revising hard, aren’t we?’ they shouldn’t call it reading week if it’s not…) but not dismantling them, so I deleted it all again. I thought it was a brilliant story and if you want to find out what it is about you’ll just have to read it.
I’ve got something else for a complete contrast now which I picked up in the supermarket how-can-they-sell-books-that-cheap-that-doesn’t-cover-the-cost-of-the-paper-let-alone-pay-the-writers-anything section, it’s called ‘A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String’ by Joanne Harris and it is a book of short stories. I have no idea what they are about or what her writing is like, I just picked it up because I liked the title but hopefully it won’t take so long to read as the last one, I’ll let you know how I get on.
Ooh, that reminds me – if you like short stories then try ‘Not the End of the World’ by Kate Atkinson, if I had to clear out all my books and only rescue a handful, this is one I would keep. I don’t know what it is about it (plus see paragraph above about being rubbish at describing books) but it doesn’t matter that I know what is going to happen, there is just something about the words and the rhythm of it that make me want to read it again. Although the stories are separate they all have little details which link them to the others in different ways which sort of joins it up and makes it into a whole thing (like you have to listen to a whole album in one go and not just download single tracks). And it has lots of lovely lists of words. And magic. And a tiger. Why wouldn’t you want to read it?
Hurrah for antibiotics! I’m feeling a lot better and can have a proper conversation without a five minute coughing fit after every third and a half word. And the garden is waking up, I spotted the first bit of colour this year (apart from the green and brown, which clearly are colours, and the plethora of plastic toys that are a more or less permanent feature but don’t count because they don’t photosynthesise) and it’s purple.
I haven’t done much this week what with still feeling grotty but I did manage to finish a book. I used to read almost constantly – I spent the best part of my A levels either skulking in the music practice cupboard, bashing the piano loudly and hoping they wouldn’t hear it through the wall in the next room (which was where I should have been for a maths lesson) or when I didn’t need to be in the maths department I was normally sat in the corridor there working my way steadily through the fiction section of the college library. So it is very strange to not have the time to read and when there is time there is normally too much going on to concentrate on it anyway; I’ve been reading ‘Anna Karenina’ since August which has to be some kind of record, I think that even beats ‘The Lord of the Rings’. The book that I finished wasn’t that one, I was telling someone about ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ by Diana Wynne Jones the other day and then I realised I couldn’t really remember what happened in it so I thought I’d better read it again. It is another book (like Mr. Milne’s) that has chapters ‘In which’ things happen. One of them is ‘Chapter Six – in which Howl expresses his feelings with green slime’, there now, don’t you just want to read it to find out what all the slime is about?
I won’t tell you too much about it in case you do want to read it. ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ is about Sophie who should be young but is old because of a curse and can do magic without realising, she talks to things and tells them what to do or to be and talks life into them without knowing she is doing it. Another character is Calcifer, a rather grumpy fire demon, who makes the castle move and the castle belongs to Wizard Howl/Howell Jenkins who is from a strange land (can you guess which one with a name like that?) and who according to Sophie is a ‘slitherer-outer’ and who according to Calcifer is ‘heartless’. It’s a lovely story, it has shooting stars, the sosban fach song, mermaids, seven league boots, the Witch of the Waste, a yummy cake shop and the castle is fantastic – it scuttles around the hillside and is somehow in four places at once which is very useful and it is a different shape inside than it is out.
I like reading, I will read most things, grown-up books are ok and I enjoy them but fairy tales are great and kids books always seem like a lot more fun and anyway who says I have to grow up?
This is nothing to do with anything so far but it is brilliant so I thought I would tell you. Last time we went to the library we found a book, it is fairly surreal and everyone should read it. I love reading and silly stories and kids stories and reading silly kids stories, that’s probably a good thing as I don’t get much time for reading grown up stories at the moment because it is hardly ever quiet in our house. By the way, don’t read this post if you don’t want me to tell you the end of the story because I probably will.
The book is ‘Daddy Lost His Head’ by Quentin Blake and André Bouchard.
It is about a daddy who comes home from work one day without his head, he keeps bumping into things because he can’t see. However, he can hear and follow instructions so his family sit him down quietly while they look for his head and after failing to find it they make him a new head out of newspapers which they paint and add a potato for his nose. As he didn’t have a brain to think for himself, Mum told him what to do which got lots of cleaning done and also she was pleased that he no longer snored. He is still able to do some things ‘thanks to the Super Brilliant Force of Habit’- the children take him to the toy shop, one steers him and one hides inside his jacket to do the voice and Dad can still manage to type in his PIN without thinking about it. One day he came back from work with his real head, he had left it at the office because ‘he needed all of his brain to work on a project that was Ultrasupertopimportant’. Dad didn’t remember about any of it and everyone else was very pleased because his real head had the recipe for chocolate cake and all the bed time stories in it.
The drawings are great; Dad’s paper head does look surprisingly like his real one. Quentin Blake’s drawings always make me smile (I can remember reading Mr Magnolia when I was littler than I am now and being able to picture the drawings vividly even when I hadn’t seen a copy for years). The words are fantastic and silly, I’m not sure small people understand most of the jokes but maybe that’s half the fun.