Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sunday Summary (second time lucky?)

Gotta love technology. I spent a good hour drafting this Summary, only to discover on clicking Publish that it hadn't been saving for, well, let's say 45 mins of that time.

Here's hoping you might get yourselves some full Summary action this time. (Wait, is that an oxymoron?)

So! This week, I have mostly been...

Reading | two books! Yes! Two at a time! I'm turning into my father.

This is what I'm reading during the day:

and during the evening (i.e. in the bath):

The only similarities between the two are the presence of a female, and a grey wash, on the covers.

I did have to smile at the opening paragraph of chapter 5 of How to Be a Woman, which echoed my sentiments precisely on clothes shopping as explored at length in my Contemplation.

...Personally, I find the idea that women are supposed to 'love' shopping bizarre -- nearly every woman I know wants to cry after 45* minutes of trawling the high street looking for a shirt, and hits the gin with alacrity upon the sad occasions where jeans have to be found. 
-- How to Be a Woman | Caitlin Moran

* they lasted that long? Really?

Also, who knew there were so many abundant terms for one's lady-bits? I do, now. And some descriptions still make me snort with laughter. Best I keep reading this at home, then. Follow Caitlin Moran on Twitter here.

Discovering | What Makes a Children's Classic?

On Thursday, workfriends Clare, Evie and I rocked up to this discussion organised by the Children's Book Circle. The panellists were author Kate Saunders, Waterstone's head book-buyer Melissa Cox and (my greatest reason for attending) journalist and author Lucy Mangan.

OK, the promise of marmalade sandwiches and ginger beer were also a pull.

The discussion opened with the three panellists nominating their favourite children's classics: Kate Saunders ventured Five Children and It (E Nesbit), the sequel of which she is currently working on; Lucy Mangan nominated The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) and the more contemporary Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. Melissa Cox cited Little Women (Louisa May Alcott -- the edition not including Good Wives!) as her favourite and thus endeared me to her for the rest of the evening. She also cited as her contemporary classic Dead Man's Cove (Lauren St. John) which has hints of Enid Blyton**.



I took notes. Because I'm a geek. And while I won't bore you with a full transcription I will surmise the salient points of what makes a children's classic:

-- Innovation plays a key part in making a classic

-- Classics provide a circle of safety, a point of entry into a protected, magical world

-- In a saturated market, nostalgia endears an adult to a classic and inspires them to pass the book down to their own children

-- Many of what we term 'classics' hail from the Victorian/Edwardian era (although the three panellists also agreed that The Worst Witch, now 40 years old, is also a classic -- this agreement made me want to marry all three of them.)

-- There is a finite pool of children's books we can genuinely call 'classics'

-- Overall a classic is an exciting story and provides pure escapism. And it has to be well written. "Quality will win out," Kate Saunders rightly said.

You can also get a gist of how the discussion went down from the CBC's Twitter feed from the night, here.

** The only point I disagreed with was that Enid Blyton wasn't considered good enough to be a classic author -- yet her works still sell and are in demand by today's children.

Watching | The In-Betweeners

I identify all too closely with Will. 'Nuff said.

Reminiscing and Pinning

I've spent a lot of time on Pinterest this week, and I've set up a small cluster of boards that I keep going back to ogle, namely this one:

Acceptable in the 80s

It's a veritable feast for the nostalgic eyes of little tidbits from my childhood that other people of my generation have pinned. And it's brought back so many tiny little memories!

For instance:

That blood pressure monitor could really cut off your circulation.
But I remember that the stethoscope actually worked pretty well for a toy!
Look at the detail in that artwork!
And because I am a huge book geek I'm also pinning to a Vintage Ladybird Book pinboard via my work Pinterest account:


a vintage children's book pinboard:

and a vintage Enid Blyton book pinboard:

Who were the Saucy Jane family? The mind boggles.

And in the spirit of reminiscence, I also caught up with some ol' workmates earlier this week. The memories -- and vino -- did flow. Top night. Not even blighted by me leaving my purse in the restaurant. Like a drunken eejit twit.

And finally...


Yep. Made lemon drizzle cakes from a recipe in issue 21 of The Simple Things.

Actually, factually, nailed it.

Right, well, if Blogger allows me to, this time, I shall share with you this week's Interweb Links:

# Arnau Oriol's Commuter photo series

© Arnau Oriol

# Vivienne Rickman-Poole's #30daysofswimming photo series

© Vivienne Rickman-Poole

# Richard Herring tackles swimming etiquette again (and I love him for it)

# How many classic books have you read? Take the challenge!

# A recent Booktrust study reveals a reading divide

# Publishers respond to gender debate on children's books

# The Great British Bookshop opens online -- also read here

# One-Letter-Different Book Covers [Warning: Involves some naughtiness!]

(You got the message about me being a big book geek, right?)

# Couply adverts make singletons bitter

# Rent this mad, mad converted coastguard lookout house in Dungeness

[found via]

[All photos of coastguard lookout by Peter Marlow | Magnum]

And finally...

# (With thanks to Evie) Replace the jaded ol' Hollywood sign with your own name. Vast improvement. Trust me.



  1. I loved Milly-Molly-Mandy as a wee'n! Nothing to do with the name at all... Possibly...

  2. Why else do you think I love Little Women? ;-) (Admittedly also because it's a ripping yarn about the triumph of the human spirit set against the backdrop of the American Civil War...)! :)