Saturday, March 24, 2018

Dark and light

Sometimes, sitting in bed with my first Yorkshire tea of the day, I can see buzzards flying high above our garden. They're not there today.

I woke up with a head full of cold that I've been fighting off since Thursday. Instead of starting in on the Saturday papers, I finished reading Helen Dunmore's The Lie about a man suffering PTSD in the aftermath of the first world war. The ending reduced me to tears. 

Dunmore's writing is beautiful - simple, straightforward and yet so evocative, including sensual details the way she does. The fact she was a poet as well as a novelist shines through her prose, as it does for Sebastian Barry, also a novelist and poet. I love Helen Dunmore's novels, although not The Greatcoat. And I thought Birdcage Walk was disappointing. But The Lie is the most powerful book I have read since reading Barry's A long, long way - also about WW1. The epigraph at the beginning of The Lie is a quote from Rudyard Kipling:

If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied.

On a lighter note, I've recently been watching Call the Midwife every night on Netflix. I've never seen it before. Now I am in awe of both Jenny Agutter and Sister Julienne, but I find the character Jenny Lee unappealing. She's so prim. 

I like the way they have snatches of contemporaneous popular music in the soundtrack but it's meant that one song in particular has lodged in my brain and been on repeat for days. I love the words and the tune and can't resist getting Alexa to play it when I'm busy in the kitchen. Carly Simon's rendition is my favourite as it's the tempo I like and has a tasty bit of sax in the middle. The song is I only have eyes for you. The words are so romantic, and I love the tune.

Do you suppose anyone ever said to someone else 'I only have eyes for you'?

No-one has ever said anything like that to me, even when I was worth looking at. I remember 35 years ago when I was going to give a presentation of research findings to a large group of people and spent some time beforehand deciding what to wear and putting on make-up, to give myself more confidence. 

I said to Dave: 'Do I look OK to stand up in front of a lot of people I don't know?' and he said 'How far away are they going to be?'

This week I put on my new Sainsbury's leggings to go cycling in and we had a similar interchange.

Me: 'Do you think I look all right in these?'
Him: 'You look fine.' Pause. 'Anyway, you'll be going fast.'

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