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31 October, 2014 at 7:23 pm by belgianwaffle

My sister: Your blog is never updated. Your loyal followers are disappointed.
Me: Well, tomorrow is the first of November, so you know what that means.
Her: NaBloPoMo
Me: Correct, so a post every day in November.
Her: Meh. The standard of those posts can be really variable.

More Culture

1 October, 2014 at 9:48 pm by belgianwaffle

I went to see “Our Few and Evil Days” in the Abbey Theatre. I had seen one of Mark O’Rowe’s plays before so even without the title I knew it was likely to be a bit grim. It was a bit grim. It featured famous people in an Irish context. The acting was largely good though some of the accents needed a little work. I thought that the play itself was a bit incoherent. The second act was better than the first but the character who triggered the action in the second act and was the hero of the first was a bit unnecessary. I could tell you what happened to the brother, but then I’d have to kill you.

I am tiring of the arts.

Suffering for Art

21 September, 2014 at 10:14 pm by belgianwaffle

I went to see a revival of “Borstal Boy” by Brendan Behan in the Gaiety earlier this week. It is very long and contains more song and dance numbers than you might expect but it has its moments.

On Friday night it was culture night so, we had book doctor prescriptions from CBI in the Writers’ Museum [your children tell adults who are experts in children’s books what they are reading and they recommend what they might like]; we went to the Mendicity Institution which was really interesting and where we got soup made to the original 1818 recipe (very glutinous); and we had a stroll around Merrion Square which was mildly interesting. There was a very long queue to get into number 29 Fitzwilliam Square – a Georgian House Museum so we skipped that and I promised to take Herself another day. We went yesterday and had the place largely to ourselves – entrance fee €6 for both of us – so I feel that was money well spent.

2014-09-20 001

Last night, Mr. Waffle and I went to see “The Belle Bottoms” in the Fringe Theatre Festival – an hour of funny songs inspired by the 70s. It was written by Eoin Colfer who writes really terrific books for children. I had hopes. They were dashed. Mr. Colfer was in the audience. I nearly went up to him and cried, “How could you do this to us? Do you know that we paid for a babysitter to be here?” I didn’t. I did manage to lose my keys on the cycle home though. Alas.

Public Service Announcement

15 September, 2014 at 10:26 pm by belgianwaffle

I won free tickets to Woody Allen’s new film, “Magic in the Moonlight” from the Dublin Theatre festival. Mr. Waffle and I went this evening. It was unremittingly awful. Don’t go. Ironically, it might make a better play.

More holiday soon.

A Trap for the Unwary

6 August, 2014 at 11:07 am by belgianwaffle

My (Irish) friend was giving expert evidence to a House of Lords committee recently. She decided that they were all lords and could be addressed as such, so, following one man’s intervention, she said as “Lord X said…”. The clerk of the committee passed her a note. On it was written “viscount”.


3 August, 2014 at 3:06 pm by belgianwaffle

The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith
The Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith

These are books 1 and 2 in JK Rowling’s detective series. I really enjoyed both books and I think that they are very well plotted and competently written. For my money, book 1 was better than book 2. Book 2 was a bit flabby and overlong. Nearly 500 pages for a standard detective novel is just too much. The first novel is set in the world of celebrity models and the second in publishing. I can’t say I know a lot about either milieu but the first struck me as more authentic. Still, the relationship between the two main characters is really well done and engaging. I will read book 3 when it comes out.

Death of Yesterday” by MC Beaton
Death of a Bore” by MC Beaton

Don’t judge me. These are exactly the same as all the other Hamish Macbeth books. Therein lies their charm, I suppose.

The Farm” by Tom Rob Smith

This is a story written by a man with a Swedish mother and an English father about a Swedish woman who is married to an English man and has an English son. Are you still with me?

The narrator’s Swedish mother may be losing her mind. His parents have emigrated to Sweden after a life in England and his Swedish mother begins to disintegrate. It’s unclear whether the story she tells her son is the result of a disordered mind or whether there is something more sinister afoot. The author manages this really well and it is very difficult to know what is real and what is imagined. I thought the denouement was very clever and satisfactorily explained the story. It is also very competently written. Thematically, it is a bit grim, though, and I am not entirely sure I can say that I enjoyed it.

How to be a Heroine” by Samantha Ellis

The author talks about some of the books that formed and shaped her as a reader and more generally. If you are a reader and were a reading child, it’s very interesting to see some of your old favourites taken by the scruff of the neck and analysed in detail.

Greenery Street” by Denis Mackail

My kind sister-in-law gave me a present of this in the Persephone Bookss edition and I was charmed. It is a lovely novel about a young married couple in their first home. The couple are singularly ineffectual, always running out of money and live in fear of their maid whom they call “the murderess”. All their crises, however, are minor ones and happily resolved.

I discovered on reading the introduction that Angela Thirkell, whose books I like very much, was the older and much loathed sister of Denis Mackail. Apparently she was by far the stronger personality of the two. I can see that as there is a sweetness in “Greenery Street” which is entirely absent in Thirkell’s work.

Love Nina” by Nina Stibbe

This is a very entertaining read but might possibly be even more entertaining, if you were intimate with literary London in the 1980s. Unacquainted as I am with London literary figures, it still made me laugh. Also, Alan Bennett is a lovely man.

Look Who’s Back” by Timur Vermes

The conceit of this novel, which was a best seller in Germany, is that Hitler wakes up in modern day Germany. Everyone things that he is a Hitler impersonator and he becomes a media darling. It has some very clever and amusing pieces like when Hitler tries to set up an email account (“Adolf Hitler” – No that’s gone – “Reichstag” -That’s gone too – and so on) and when he visits the neo-nazi offices. Quite daring overall, as well as funny, and interesting.

Raising Steam” by Terry Pratchett

A new Terry Pratchett novel, but not a very good one. Half a loaf is better than no bread. Steam comes to Discworld.

The Other Family by Joanna Trollope
Daughters in Law by Joanna Trollope

Some friends recommended Joanna Trollope. I hadn’t tried her stuff before but I now think I will be reading them all. These are both clever, readable stories about the trials and tribulations of the middle classes. Not a huge amount happens but it doesn’t matter.

Summer Half” by Angela Thirkell

Another Angela Thirkell came into the library, rejoice with me. I enjoyed this as I have enjoyed all her stuff. She has some pretty odd ideas about teachers though.

The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion

Another very enjoyable read. A man on the autistic spectrum meets a disorganised girl. It is, as the reviewers say, laugh out loud funny. Recommended for a summer read.

“Five go to Smuggler’s Top” by Enid Blyton

I read this in honour of my trip to Rye. A terrible mistake. George is undoubtedly the most annoying character in fiction. Her and her stupid, bloody dog. Not a childhood favourite I should have revisited.

“Fatherland” by Robert Harris

A friend recommended this and I enjoyed it. It’s set in a 1964 where Germany has won the war. The impact of this and the likely nature of the Greater German Reich is really cleverly imagined using the example of East Germany and Russia, I imagine. The book is essentially a police procedural about a lone good cop solving a mysterious murder but it is the context which makes it both clever and memorable. I would read another of his books but I think I would need to be in the whole of my health to do so. The author is very clever and it shows just a little too much.


2 August, 2014 at 11:40 am by belgianwaffle

I was at a party recently where one of my fellow guests was a man in his 40s with two children, a boy of 5 and a girl of 3. The little girl snatched some pizza from a plate that was circulating and her father said to her, “Don’t do that, it’s rude.” Then he turned to me and said conversationally, “I always think, before giving out to her, would I say the same thing to her brother? I don’t want to stop her being herself or put more restraints in her way than I would in his.”

This from a man with 5 brothers and no sisters who went to a conservative all boys school. Rejoice.

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