The grandparents put in a week of hard graft in Brussels and went home this morning. There were tears (on the Brussels side, the Dublin side remained strangely stoic) as they hopped out of boot camp. It was mid-term and my noble parents-in-law put in a lot of hours with the children while we trooped off to our offices. They also seem to have done all of the cooking.
The grandparents pointed out that Michael and Daniel spent much of their time hitting each other, something we hadn’t noticed so much ourselves. They often do so more in a spirit of enquiry than anger (will this dinky hurt, if I bang my brother’s head with it?) and kiss and make up quite readily before setting off again entirely unabashed. I am not entirely sure to what extent they realise that they are two different people. Michael invariably identifies himself as Daniel in the mirror. The other night when we asked them to say goodnight to each other, they thought it was the most hilarious suggestion they had ever heard.
Back to the grandparents: the Princess’s grandmother spent much of her time here teaching her granddaughter the words to an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical number (not all of the words but she told the Princess the remaining verses could be found on the internet). The wisdom of this I leave for her to decide, but you may inspect the results for yourself here and here. I am the backing singer (I am a less apt pupil than my daughter, you will note).
NaBloPoMo – It turns out that most authors’ surnames begin with C. Below is a selection of my favourites.
C is for Chesterton, Cheek, Christie, Colfer, Coupland and Coe
Chesterton, Gilbert Keith to his friends. Author of the Father Brown short stories, all of which are bound in a large, faded, red volume in my parents’ house and which I have read more times than I can remember. I love Father Brown and even though I know the twist in every single story, I don’t care. Chesterton does suffer a little from the zeal of the convert but as a poor catholic I like that, I always feel a little holier after reading Father Brown. The stories remind me of home and I love them for that too. Funnily enough, I haven’t been tempted to branch out and try further Chesterton. I once read a book of essays called “Tremendous Trifles” and I didn’t enjoy it much even though there was an excellent essay on the joys of lying in bed in the morning. Perhaps I will reconsider when I am feeling strong.
Mavis Cheek writes good feminist fiction. A bit like Fay Weldon only funnier and, I would say, better written. I think I have them all.
Agatha Christie was one of the first “grown-up” authors I read and I have a great affection for her. Sometimes it wavers when I reread. When I had a cold recently, I went to bed early with “The Labours of Hercules” and it was quite shocking. Mind you, it did yield this description of herself by Mrs. Christie on the back cover: “As for my tastes, I enjoy my food, hate the taste of any kind of alcohol, have tried and tried to like smoking, but can’t manage it. I adore flowers, am crazy about the sea, love the theatre but am bored to death by the talkies (and am very stupid at following them), loathe wireless and all loud noises, dislike living in cities. I do a lot of travelling, mostly in the Near East, and have a great love of the desert.” So there.
I have been reading children’s fiction for a long time. I read the first Harry Potter at a time when it was neither profitable nor popular. Eoin Colfer is a hugely successful Irish children’s author. His hero is Artemis Fowl an adolescent genius who discovers that there is a fairyland. It sounds dreadful but it’s hilarious action packed stuff and, if you can’t quite face it yourself, I highly recommend it for your children.
Douglas Coupland has been writing about my generation for a long time. I bought my copy of “Generation X” in 1992 and I have bought almost everything he has written since. He is a bit hit and miss. “Shampoo planet” was awful; “Microserfs” left me cold; “Girlfriend in a Coma” and “Eleanor Rigby” were interesting; “All Families are Psychotic” was probably my favourite but it was very odd indeed. “J-pod” awaits my attention.
Jonathan Coe is the author of the truly excellent “House of Sleep”, “What a Carve-up” and “The Rotters’ Club”. Less successful, if you ask me, is “The Closed Circle”. I have just finished “The Rain Before it Falls” and I am not entirely convinced. Hmm.