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woofwoof

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  1. With an engaging enthusiasm, Nick Procter describes some of the less well known places that he has visited over the years – Luxembourg, Gibralter, Helsinki, and Poole Harbour amongst others. It is also no doubt the first time anyone has ever included the town of Basingstoke in a travel book! (Procter spends about 16 pages discussing the outstanding features of that town including Marks and Spencers, Weatherspoons, Accessorise and Poundland. (It reminds me of when Nandos was voted Preston’s best restaurant…). Proctor writes very well, including numerous anecdotes and as befits a true travel writer is always happy to venture down any physical cul-de-sacs and to follow through with any tangents that come to mind. He includes numerous interesting facts. Who knew for instance that Luxembourg has its own language distinct from both French and German called appropriately enough, "Luxembourgish" My favourite quotes from the book “It remains the only time in my life that I have seen a peacock on a beach and I can’t think of when I will see another one.” “I used the word monkey in the previous paragraph for brevity, but monkey is too casual a term for my liking.” (About a garlic producing farm on the Isle of Wight): "I don't think I've had a better day out anywhere ever" - this is from a man who had visited 5 continents by the age of 14!)
  2. Today is the 125th anniversary of the death of Alfred Lord Tennyson. It’s amazing how time flies, it doesn’t seem like 8 years since the 200th birth anniversary. The following are some links to blogs with very interesting descriptions of his passing away in that moonlit room at his Sussex house: http://kimberlyevemusings.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/god-bless-you-my-joy-death-of-alfred.html http://fannycornforth.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/the-passing-of-alfred.html Also, here is a link to a poll where people can chose their favourite Tennyson poem (devised for the 200th birth anniversary in 2009) The Lady of Shalott is featured in a programme on BBC Radio 4 Extra – Sunday 8th October 17:00 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b097m4k3 Also available on the BBC website is the Great Lives programme from 2009: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lv28d The hour long classic “Circle of the Hills” documentary
  3. Just finished it. The writing as others have said is truly wonderful. It's a pleasure to read a book where you can really feel immersed in the world that it portrays. I felt that the main characters were beautifully and sensitively drawn (and unlike most of you, I think quite believable. I feel that sometimes you do get thrown into situations where you just have to rise to the occasion and do your best, undoubtedly what Nella did). I do agree with everyone else that the Miniaturist herself is left unresolved. I also wanted to know what happened to the characters - how did they survive? An afterword would have been a good idea (assuming she's not going to add a sequel?)
  4. It is definitely a great novel and was intrigued to see how the story would pan out. Cathy must be one of the most unpleasant characters in fiction. The hero for me was Lee, Adam's chinese servant - he is such a beautifully drawn character. The novel is undoubtedly flawed - it is too long and the half of it that deals with Steinbeck's relatives especially his Hamilton grandfather whom he obviously hero-worshipped doesn't really work - the real story is that of Adam and his family.
  5. When I was a child, for some reason my family had the Readers Digest for just one year - 1967. I remember they featured this book and for a long time it was the only Steinbeck book I had read (recently I finished East of Eden).
  6. Just a bit of trivia to add - apparently former England football manager, Roy Hodgson, was asked how he dealt with the stress of his former job. He said it was through reading - and the book he was reading during the last championships was this one! (Hopefully it helped him see that there are fates worse than being sacked as England football manager!)
  7. The recent Disney remake of The Beauty and the Beast has an interesting scene where Belle and the Beast are walking in the woods, and Belle quotes a beautiful poem, one that is not too familiar to me at all: A Crystal Forest The air is blue and keen and cold, With snow the roads and fields are white But here the forest's clothed with light And in a shining sheath enrolled. Each branch, each twig, each blade of grass, Seems clad miraculously with glass: Above the ice-bound streamlet bends Each frozen fern with crystal ends. (William Sharp) Then the script writers add their own lines: "For in that solemn silence is heard in the whisper of every sleeping thing: Look, look at me, Come wake me up for still here I'll be." I have never heard of the poet, William Sharp. Apparently he was a friend and admirer of Dante Gabriel Rossetti - his first published work was a memoir of Rossetti. One interesting feature of Sharp's life is that it seems that he developed an obsession for a writer called Edith Rinder. For some reason, this caused him to start writing novels and poems under the pseudonym, Fiona MacLeod. He managed to keep this completely secret, and the true identity of MacLeod was not known until it was revealed by Sharp's wife, Elizabeth after his death.
  8. http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/dec/08/best-british-novel-of-all-time-international-critics-top-100-middlemarch I'm not sure I would have put Middlemarch first though it is a great novel undoubtedly. I certainly wouldn't have put the two Virginia Woolfs at numbers 2 and 3. Overall it seems like a good list (though Atonement at No 15? and Sense of an ending really doesn't deserve to appear). Nice to see Remains of the Day, End of the Affair, Heart of the Matter, Possession, The Blue Flower
  9. Thought people might be interested in another "best novels" list, this time from the Hatchards bookshop: Here is the full list https://www.hatchards.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/hatchards_favourite_novels.pdf Article in The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/nov/27/anthony-trollope-tops-hatchards-poll-to-find-best-novel-of-past-200-years#comment-64302650
  10. I did enjoy this book. It is really gripping and I hardly put it down while reading it (unusual for me!). I thought the characterisation of Rachel was interesting - in some ways quite a moving account of what it is like to be a rejected woman, driven into alcoholism and weight gain, and generally undervalued by society. I think it was great to see a heroine like Rachel. I did wonder why she was so penniless when surely Tom would have had to pay her something for her share of the house? But maybe she drank it all away. Having said all that, it has to be said that it's not Tolstoy, the plot is a little bit hard to believe towards the end, and like other people above I also felt that too many of the characters were too similar. The title is also silly - Rachel is a woman in her thirties I would guess. It seems to be the thinking that to sell it helps if you have "girl" in the title. (What happened to the feminist view that adult women should not be referred to as 'girls'?)
  11. This is a magnificent work by an author I had never previously heard of but apparently was the best selling author in the world in the late 1930s. His brilliant prose draws you in until one is emotionally drained and desperate for a resolution of the crisis. I would compare him with Tolstoy and Henry James, and he makes Graham Greene seem like an amateur in comparison. Also, all credit to the translator, the brilliant Anthea Bell.
  12. The film is mildly amusing but spoilt by the usual casual attitude to sex. Also by the presence of Judy Dench who I always find irritating - doesnt matter what role she plays, it's the same matter of fact knowall
  13. I can put up with a small amount of swearing in films especially where it is more or less expected eg an action film but really I would prefer it if they didn't. In books I really can't stand it at all and sometimes has put me off the book completely. That's where it is such a pleasure to read people like Len Deighton - he writes beautifully without swear words even though the subject matter might well warrant it. C.J. Sansom (Shardlake etc) is someone who doesn't over use swear words but uses them occasionally for effect (eg it is quite comical where Barack refers to everyone as an a-hole and finally Shardlake says to him that he is the biggest a-hole around hyere!)) but I still find it grates and rarely adds anything to the story. "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night" is one book where every character apart from the boy himself swears constantly. I can see why the author has done it, but for me it ruined the book. It also makes it difficult to use as a school text for which purpose it is otherwise eminently suited.
  14. Alfred Lord Tennyson, Tithonus The woods decay, the woods decay and fall, The vapours weep their burthen to the ground, Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath, And after many a summer dies the swan. Me only cruel immortality Consumes: I wither slowly in thine arms, Here at the quiet limit of the world, A white-hair'd shadow roaming like a dream The ever-silent spaces of the East, Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn. ... A soft air fans the cloud apart; there comes A glimpse of that dark world where I was born. Once more the old mysterious glimmer steals From thy pure brows, and from thy shoulders pure, And bosom beating with a heart renew'd. Thy cheek begins to redden thro' the gloom, Thy sweet eyes brighten slowly close to mine, Ere yet they blind the stars, and the wild team Which love thee, yearning for thy yoke, arise, And shake the darkness from their loosen'd manes, And beat the twilight into flakes of fire. Lo! ever thus thou growest beautiful In silence, then before thine answer given Departest, and thy tears are on my cheek. Why wilt thou ever scare me with thy tears, And make me tremble lest a saying learnt, In days far-off, on that dark EARTH be true? 'The Gods themselves cannot recall their gifts.' ...
  15. I did this review a couple of years ago but it seems to have got lost probably in last year's kerfuffle! Fanny Cornforth is probably the least known of the three women who dominated the personal and professional life of the painter, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Elizabeth Siddal (his wife) is seen as the typical Victorian oppressed woman, a talented artist and poet in her own right, driven to an early and tragic death by her husband's lack of commitment and flighty ways. Jane Morris is the archetypal artist's muse: silent, superior, and mysterious, a keeper of many secrets and inspirer of fabulous portraiture. Fanny Cornforth in comparison has been regarded variously as a thief, a liar, a gold digger and a prostitute. Walker has written an excellent account of the life of this lesser regarded muse. She traces her life from its origins in the Sussex market town of Steyning, through her "glory days" in London when she was virtually Rossetti's "partner" for 20 or so years, and finally to her probable end back in Sussex in the early years of the twentieth century. Walker does a valiant job, trying to defend the reputation of her heroine against the various charges which have been levelled against her by Rossetti's biographers. I personally think she succeeds. Life was very hard for a working class woman in London in those days and it is easy to see why money became such an important factor in her life. It is also touching to see the genuine affection which Rossetti and Fanny had for one another. The author (who writes The Kissed Mouth blog) also describes every painting in which Fanny appeared. I greatly enjoyed reading these sections while accessing the images in question on the web. This is an excellent book that will be enjoyed by all pre-raphaelite enthusiasts.
  16. Most people when they think of the women associated with the great nineteenth century painter, Dante Gabriel Rossetti split into two camps - there are those who are enthusiastic supporters of his wife and first muse, the long suffering and ill-used Lizzie Siddal, and of course there are those who are fascinated by the strong, silent woman who dominated his later work, Jane Morris, the wife of his friend William Morris. In her earlier excellent book, Stunner, Walker made a case for a third usually forgotten muse, the earthy, commonplace Fanny Cornforth. In her latest work, A Curl of Copper and Pearl, the author reminds us that there were other women in the life of this larger than life artist by presenting in the form of a novel the last 20 or so years of Rossetti's life through the eyes of Alexa Wilding, now virtually forgotten, but who actually looks out at us from more Rossetti paintings than any of Rossetti's other models (including Siddal, Morris and Cornforth). Readers who are familiar with the author's blog, The Kissed Mouth, will be aware of the huge amount of research and scholarship which Walker undertakes and this is borne out in the many fascinating details which she has included in the novel, especially concerning Wilding's humble origins in the London meat trade, and the mystery of her birth and parentage. A fascinating and beautifully written account which I am sure will be enjoyed by all pre-raphaelite enthusiasts.
  17. I am so sorry, I am only very rarely here nowadays and only just looked up this thread after a long time. Everyone has said it already. I didn't know him very well but had interesting interaction with him from time to time. There is no part of BGO that he wasn't involved in. We will all miss him so much. Thank you especially to Hazel for keeping us all informed. It is so sad when people just disappear from internet forums and no one knows what happened to them.
  18. I think I read somewhere that Churchill would learn a poem every day while shaving! Years ago, I had a long journey to work and I used to spend the time learning poems out of an anthology by heart. I think this is the rough list: Shakespeare - Shall I compare; When in disgrace... Blake - The Tyger Wordsworth - The Daffodils Coleridge - Kubla Khan; The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (gave up after the first few verses!) Tennyson - Be near me; Break break break; Lady of Shallott Lear - The Owl and the Pussycat Wilfred Owen - Dulce et Decorum; Futility; Anthem for Doomed Youth Yeats - An Irish Airman forsees his death Brooke - The Soldier; The Old Vicarage Grantchester I regarded Grantchester (which took me several weeks!) as a huge achievement owing to its length. Pity that I now regard it as not much better than doggerel... But Grantchester! ah, Grantchester! There's peace and holy quiet there, Great clouds along pacific skies, And men and women with straight eyes, Lithe children lovelier than a dream, A bosky wood, a slumbrous stream, And little kindly winds that creep Round twilight corners, half asleep... Ah God! to see the branches stir Across the moon at Grantchester! To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten Unforgettable, unforgotten River-smell, and hear the breeze Sobbing in the little trees. Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand Still guardians of that holy land? The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream, The yet unacademic stream? Is dawn a secret shy and cold Anadyomene, silver-gold? And sunset still a golden sea From Haslingfield to Madingley? And after, ere the night is born, Do hares come out about the corn? Oh, is the water sweet and cool, Gentle and brown, above the pool? And laughs the immortal river still Under the mill, under the mill? Say, is there Beauty yet to find? And Certainty? and Quiet kind? Deep meadows yet, for to forget The lies, and truths, and pain? . . . oh! yet Stands the Church clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?
  19. There's a very interesting article on the Guardian about poems that make men cry: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/23/poetry-book-men-choose-favourite-tear-jerkers More interesting than the article itself are the comments where people have put down the stuff that makes them cry. To be honest, I have to say that I have never come across a poem which literally makes me cry - makes me very sad yes, but not actually cry. Songs and films do have this effect on me eg the first 15 minutes of "Up" and the song "You'll never walk alone". Anyway, this is my choice for a poem that almost makes me cry: Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" : Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he'd call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house, Speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. What did I know, what did I know of love's austere and lonely offices? Anyone else (male or female) have any choices?
  20. I love sonnet 164 as well! Another favourite is this one by Tennyson's brother: Letty's Globe WHEN Letty had scarce pass'd her third glad year, And her young artless words began to flow, One day we gave the child a colour'd sphere Of the wide earth, that she might mark and know, By tint and outline, all its sea and land. She patted all the world; old empires peep'd Between her baby fingers; her soft hand Was welcome at all frontiers. How she leap'd, And laugh'd and prattled in her world-wide bliss; But when we turn'd her sweet unlearned eye On our own isle, she raised a joyous cry-- 'Oh! yes, I see it, Letty's home is there!' And while she hid all England with a kiss, Bright over Europe fell her golden hair. Charles Tennyson Turner
  21. I am finding I can't paste anything into a post. This is whether I use normal keys strokes or right click paste or click on the little paste icons (it asks me if I want to give the website permission to access the clipboard but then does nothing). I notice somewhere that David recommended using the full editor. Is that the answer? How does one access the full editor?
  22. I'm miles behind everyone else as usual - just finished. I have to say I started with a very positive attitude (I loved the film starring Tilda Swinton) and thought it started very well with the encounter with the Russian princess and then the Archduchess, and even the trip to Anatolia. Strangely, it's from the gender change onwards that I think both the book (and me as the reader) lost its way. The various random happenings as the centuries went on seemed to have little rhyme or reason to them, and VW eventually has to resort to the old trick of bringing back old characters like Nick Greene to try and keep our interest. Towards the end, I was literally counting the pages and have to admit that I skimmed through many of the last 20-30 pages. It is a great relief to have finished it - I am looking forward to reading something gripping (my daughter's been begging me read Matched/Crossed/Reached which seems like a good idea). I feel that the novel was a very interesting concept with possibly revolutionary ideas for its time but really it is ideally suited to the film format i.e. a 90 minute dash rather than the interminable plodding required to get through a book. Thanks for all the very interesting comments. Someone said they thought it was probably conceived and researched at soirees and dinner parties. Myself, I wonder if Woolf spent a night wandering alone through Knole House, soaking up its atmosphere and getting plot/character ideas from the portraits. There is a dream like quality to the whole book that might explain the randomness and impossibility of many of the happenings. Someone wrote that they thought the Bloomsbury lot were quite an unpleasant and waspish group of people. Personally I think the problem is that they valued conversational entertainment higher than anything else. T.S. Eliot who was obviously the sort of clever person that they wanted to know, was terrified of going to these dinner parties because his conversational skills were poor. There's a story that he painted his face with a slight green tinge so that he could say that he was feeling sick and not able to talk very much! There is also the story that when VW and others heard of Eliot's poverty, they tried to raise money for him privately. Eliot was mortified and embarrassed by this - but I suppose this shows that they did have a caring side even if it was carried out in an insensitive way. My favourite VW reference is from The Pursuit of Love (Nancy Mitford). Lady Montdore is visiting the narrator (Fanny). LM: "I suppose your husband thinks I'm really stupid." Fanny (in reality her husband hadn't given Lady Montdore a second thought): "Oh no, he thinks you're really clever. Not an intellectual like Virginia Woolf, but very clever." LM: "Oh so he doesn't think I'm an intellectual..." From then on she would habitually end sentences with "...but then I'm not an intellectual, not like Virginia Woolf". After some time, Lady Montdore says: "Who is this VIrginia Woolf anyway?"
  23. Gentle visitor pause a while, Where you stand death cut away the light of many days. Here, jeweled names were broken from the vivid thread of life. May they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage, Under these restless skies. Brian Catling (from the memorial to the executed, Tower Green)
  24. woofwoof

    Lads Mags

    Agree with much of what is said above and the real problem that needs to be dealt with is the nature and accessibilty of internet porn (what is happening on this issue by the way? I thought David Cameron was threatening the internet providers but it all seems to have gone quiet). However when you go into Tescos to buy a loaf of bread, you are not confronted by internet porn. Nuts and Zoo really are "in your face" in a way that the womens mags (however objectionable their message) are not. To get rid of Nuts and Zoo from supermarkets would be a huge step forward. (As would The Sun/Star dropping page 3). Persuading womens magazines to adopt a different editorial line is a different battle. As for the Daily Mail, some causes really are in the hopeless category...
  25. National Poetry Day seems to become lower and lower in status as the years go by. I remember when the BBC would organise polls with a special TV programme with Griff Rhys Jones. Now, it's relegated to a thrice repeated piece on BBC Radio 4 Extra i.e. not even on Radio 4! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lr153 This is a reading of Tennyson's beautiful and passionate poem Maud. The programme is on 3 times today. Unfortunately 2 have already been missed. It is on again at 3am Friday 4th October Radio 4 Extra and should be on BBC Iplayer for a week or so Here are my favourite extracts from this poem: O let the solid ground Not fail beneath my feet Before my life has found What some have found so sweet; Then let come what come may, What matter if I go mad, I shall have had my day. Let the sweet heavens endure, Not close and darken above me Before I am quite sure That there is one to love me; Then let come what come may To a life that has been so sad, I shall have had my day. … I have led her home, my love, my only friend. There is none like her, none. And never yet so warmly ran my blood And sweetly, on and on Calming itself to the long-wish`d-for end, Full to the banks, close on the promised good. None like her, none. Just now the dry-tongued laurels` pattering talk Seem`d her light foot along the garden walk, And shook my heart to think she comes once more, But even then I heard her close the door, The gates of Heaven are closed, and she is gone. There is none like her, none. Nor will be when our summers have deceased. O, art thou sighing for Lebanon In the long breeze that streams to thy delicious East, Sighing for Lebanon, Dark cedar, tho` thy limbs have here increased, Upon a pastoral slope as fair, And looking to the South, and fed With honey`d rain and delicate air, And haunted by the starry head Of her whose gentle will has changed my fate, And made my life a perfumed altar-flame; And over whom thy darkness must have spread With such delight as theirs of old, thy great Forefathers of the thornless garden, there Shadowing the snow-limb`d Eve from whom she came. … Come into the garden, Maud, For the black bat, night, has flown, Come into the garden, Maud, I am here at the gate alone; And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad, And the musk of the roses blown. For a breeze of morning moves, And the planet of Love is on high, Beginning to faint in the light that she loves On a bed of daffodil sky, To faint in the light of the sun she loves, To faint in his light, and to die. …. There has fallen a splendid tear From the passion-flower at the gate. She is coming, my dove, my dear; She is coming, my life, my fate; The red rose cries, "She is near, she is near;" And the white rose weeps, "She is late," The larkspur listens, "I hear, I hear;" And the lily whispers, "I wait." She is coming, my own, my sweet, Were it ever so airy a tread, My heart would hear her and beat, Were it earth in an earthy bed; My dust would hear her and beat, Had I lain for a century dead; Would start and tremble under her feet, And blossom in purple and red. … O that `twere possible After long grief and pain To find the arms of my true love Round me once again! When I was wont to meet her In the silent woody places By the home that gave me birth, We stood tranced in long embraces Mixt with kisses sweeter sweeter Than anything on earth. A shadow flits before me, Not thou, but like to thee; Ah Christ, that it were possible For one short hour to see The souls we loved, that they might tell us What and where they be. It leads me forth at evening, It lightly winds and steals In a cold white robe before me, When all my spirit reels At the shouts, the leagues of lights, And the roaring of the wheels. Half the night I waste in sighs, Half in dreams I sorrow after The delight of early skies; In a wakeful doze I sorrow For the hand, the lips, the eyes, For the meeting of the morrow The delight of happy laughter, The delight of low replies. … But the broad light glares and beats, And the shadow flits and fleets And will not let me be; And I loathe the squares and streets, And the faces that one meets, Hearts with no love for me: Always I long to creep Into some still cavern deep, There to weep, and weep, and weep My whole soul out to thee. … Dead, long dead, Long dead! And my heart is a handful of dust, And the wheels go over my head, And my bones are shaken with pain, For into a shallow grave they are thrust, Only a yard beneath the street, And the hoofs of the horses beat, beat, The hoofs of the horses beat, Beat into my scalp and my brain, With never an end to the stream of passing feet, Driving, hurrying, marrying, burying, Clamor and rumble, and ringing and clatter, And here beneath it is all as bad For I thought the dead had peace, but it is not so; To have no peace in the grave, is that not sad? But up and down and to and fro, Ever about me the dead men go; And then to hear a dead man chatter Is enough to drive one mad.
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