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Enterprising Free Range Child

12 March, 2016 at 10:41 pm by belgianwaffle

Email from a friend:

From: Him
To: Me
Subject: RE: Guess

What our [youngest child] did on Friday?

Went on the mitch all day.

Herself and a mate took themselves off to the playground, shopping centre, McDonald’s. Even brought a change of clothes!

Turned nine last week. She fessed up this morning. Panicked about not having a note [for school].

Books of the Year 2015

29 January, 2016 at 6:25 pm by belgianwaffle

It’s still time for round-ups; 2015 was not a fantastic year for me on the reading front but I did read some books I really enjoyed. Here are my top five with my review at the time and any comment in italics:

“A God in Ruins” by Kate Atkinson

I think Kate Atkinson is a wonderful writer. This book is superb. The ending is really clever and stays with you. Slightly too much information about flying planes in the war for me, but that is a minor quibble.

“Faithful Place” by Tana French

I read four Tana French novels last year and they were all superb. I would read any of her books and, alas, I have read all of her published novels to date. They were all equally good, really but I just picked this one as representative as I came across it first when searching the archive.

Tana French writes detective stories which are not normally my cup of tea but I love the way she writes and I find the plots really clever also. This one is about a detective from the wrong side of the tracks whose past comes back to haunt him.

“Sisterhood” by Curtis Sittenfeld

This is very good. Not a lot of plot but the writing and characters are brilliant enough to get you over that. And even though it features psychic twins it is not at all clichéd. Truly.

“We are all Completely Beside Ourselves” by Karen Joy Fowler

Nicely written with clever interesting ideas. Better if you don’t know the twist, which I didn’t.

“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande

This is a bit depressing, if you have elderly or sick relatives. Atul Gawande is a doctor who thinks a lot. He is very interesting and always writes beautifully. Bits of this book originally appeared elsewhere and it doesn’t hang together as well as it might but overall it is very good.

Little Disagreement

1 December, 2015 at 8:03 pm by belgianwaffle

Last night the Princess asked me whether I was a Jo and Laurie person or an Amy and Laurie person. If you have not read “Little Women“, you may move on now. Anyhow, I said that I was a Jo and Laurie person, like everybody except, perhaps, Louisa May Alcott. Of course, the Princess is an Amy and Laurie person. Internet, might I ask you, what kind of person are you?

Can I tell you that you are on your first warning having given the WRONG answer on the piano question.

Last Sunday of the Liturgical Year

22 November, 2015 at 5:00 pm by belgianwaffle

I woke up this morning feeling miserable. I felt progressively worse as I had my shower and ate a solitary slice of toast for breakfast. I crawled back into bed at 10.15 with a hot water bottle and wet hair (too ill to dry with hair dryer, yes, I know what you’re thinking) only briefly rising again to stand over the toilet feeling like I was going to be sick. I was convinced that I had flu. I’ve had it once before and I was very afraid.

I woke up again at 2.30 feeling largely fine. A bit of a headache and haven’t had anything to eat yet but I am dressed and walking around and my legs no longer feel wobbly. A mystery. My hair leaves a bit to be desired though.

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Anyhow, as well as being the last Sunday of the liturgical year it is also what our Church of Ireland friends call Stir Up Sunday, (who knew that this was going to be an ecumenical post?). Showing positively Protestant levels of organisation, I had left lots of fruit soaking last night in stout and brandy. I went and bought new pudding bowls yesterday as, by some bizarre process they always disappear from one year to the next (or, at the very least, the lids do). I was therefore, this afternoon able to tip in the remaining ingredients all of which I had acquired earlier (chopped hazelnuts – yes, ground almonds – yes, chopped walnuts – yes etc). I was totally on a roll and filled with smugness until I got to juice and rind of an orange. I mean, really, we always have oranges, there was no need to get them in. But, oh no, not today. The Princess and I went out to the corner shop and as far as she is concerned, it was a total win as she got chocolate to melt for her chocolate moustache mould (every house should have one).

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So my plum puddings are made and now all that remains to do is steam them for a fortnight. This is hard won experience over my five year plum pudding making period; there was a time when I thought two and a half hours would do it. Hah. I am genuinely expecting to be steaming these puddings all evening for at least a week.

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Only Thursday?

19 November, 2015 at 9:25 pm by belgianwaffle

I feel like I have put in well over a week already.

Mr. Waffle and I went to see a worthy French film last night. I am not sure that this was an appropriate mid-week outing; it’s the kind of thing you need to be in the whole of your health to sit through. The hero was called Malony. This is an Irish surname which went to America and became an American first name (because Americans seem to like that) and now because of the pervasive influence of American culture, it was picked by the film as the perfect name for the juvenile delinquent character. Which is a bit weird, if you’re Irish.

That’s all I’ve got for today, I fear.

Reading

18 November, 2015 at 9:56 pm by belgianwaffle

“A God in Ruins” by Kate Atkinson

I think Kate Atkinson is a wonderful writer. This new book is superb. The ending is really clever and stays with you. Slightly too much information about flying planes in the war for me, but that is a minor quibble.

“Faithful Place” by Tana French

Another Tana French novel. She writes detective stories which are not normally my cup of tea but I love the way she writes and I find the plots really clever also. This one is about a detective from the wrong side of the tracks whose past comes back to haunt him.

“Broken Harbour” by Tana French

Another beautifully written, clever book by Tana French. It’s a detective story with all the detective elements in place but also an extended meditation on the boom and the bust and the people who were left high and dry when the Irish economy collapsed.

“Mrs Bradshaw’s Handbook: Travelling Upon the Ankh-Morpork & Sto Plains Hygienic Railway (Discworld)” by Terry Pratchett (2014)

Sorry, but this was awful. It wasn’t even funny. I think Terry Pratchett can only have been marginally involved at best.

“The Brandons” by Angela Thirkell

More super conservative 1930s social comedy from the mistress of the genre. I suppose you either like this stuff or you don’t. I do.

“Man at the Helm” by Nina Stibbe

This was quite good. The author’s first book about being a nanny in a publisher’s house in London. That was factual, but this is sold as fiction. I have a feeling, however, that it is strongly based on fact in which case I can only gasp at the horror and misery of her childhood and the rather stoic good nature which she and her siblings demonstrated in the face of adversity.

“Sisterhood” by Curtis Sittenfeld

This is very good. Not a lot of plot but the writing and characters are brilliant enough to get you over that. And even though it features psychic twins it is not at all clichéd. Truly.

“Death of a Policeman” by MC Beaton

I still read MC Beaton even though a part of me really disapproves of her. This Hamish Macbeth novel is, doubtless, an insult to Scottish people everywhere.

“The Moscow Option” by Jeremy Duns

This kind of thing is not really for me. If you like spy novels with double agents, deeply improbable plots and a certain amount of confusion, this is for you.

“Don’t Know Much About Catholic History” by Diane Moczar

A friend lent me this. The author is very keen on the 13th century and anyone who says it was anything other than amazing is anathema. She has strong, conservative Catholic views. Not for me though unintentionally entertaining in places.

“The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Cathecism” by John Zmirak

Lent to me by the same friend. Profoundly annoying, rendered the more so by the fact that there were some really interesting ideas in there which I could have done with having explained without heavy handed humour.

“Barbe Bleu” by Amélie Nothomb

Meh, not bad. A clever enough retelling of the traditional Blue Beard story. I didn’t love it but it was fine.

That’s Not Right

17 November, 2015 at 6:51 pm by belgianwaffle

At the book festival on Saturday there was a little girl about 8 or 9 behind the tea counter with two adults. I’m not sure whether they were her parents; they looked a bit on the young side but everybody looks on the young side to me now.

I asked her whether she was in charge of giving out the brownies and she said that she was. “Are they nice,” I asked, “have you tried them?” “No,” she said, “I’m on a diet.” I laughed because she was a tiny slip of a thing and only 9 to boot. She did not look amused and said to me seriously, “I’ve cut out carbs as well.”


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