Saturday, June 23, 2007

Turning Japanese In Cornwall

We come back a day early and find out that very few of you have been blog-idle for the past two weeks. In fact you've probably written more than you usually would in 14 days. How could you do this to me?

Today is day-zero in my blogging world. So here we go starting again from scratch.

The holiday was very relaxing, thank you very much. We only left The Lizard on rainy Tuesday to visit a very busy Eden Project which is like a cross between Kew Gardens, Bluewater Shopping Centre, Watford Gap Services and the WOMAD Festival. Guess who was playing there the day after we visited? Peter chuffing Gabriel!

I will show you our holiday snaps in due course - so that gives me time to get the drinks and snacks in. Is anybody averse to taramasalata? I know I am.

Intellectually, it has been a very intellectual fortnight. We watched the whole first series of The Wire. Although we didn't understand about a third of it, even with subtitles, it is seriously addictive stuff. We also watched the whole of the Bilko box set for light relief. We now refer to our holiday as an "extended furlough" which is a phrase so good it should not be exclusive to the American armed services.

I actually had the opportunity to read, too. I read the following:-

1. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I read the first 63 pages before I gave it up as a lost cause.

2. Timbuktu by Paul Auster. 23 pages. I'm a lightweight, aren't I?

3. Collected Ghost Stories by MR James. 20 pages: lightweight!

4. The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster. 22 pages: lightweight!

5. ALL 187 pages of South Of The Border, West Of The Sun by Haruki Murakami. I'm an immediate fan.

6. ALL 180 pages of In The Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami. This was an entertaining serial killer story which I only read because I picked up two Murakamis from the library, not noticing they were by two separate authors.

7. 306 pages and counting of Writing Home by Alan Bennett. This is brilliant, of course, and a perfect accompaniment to Untold Stories which I read last year. I don't always read things in the wrong order, honest.

So intellectually I was stimulated. But was I at one with nature?

You'll just have to wait for the holiday snaps.


  1. Thank god you're back from the Cornish Riviera! Boscastle had another flood so it was more Riverera. Sorry you missed Gabriel though.

  2. Being 'at one' with nature is extremely overrated and I have the spots to prove it.

    I was hooked on 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' and thought of giving it as a Christmas gift to girlfriends. Thankfully I didn't because most of them announced pregnancies in the new year. Lawks.

    Oh, and welcome back Scott and Zelda.

  3. Murph - The sea almost took us at Porthleven but we escaped to swim another day. Gabriel's the first in a series. He was a belated Fathers' Day present for the older dads. Lily Allen is coming up for the returning posh students who like their music a bit edgy.

    Arabella - Betty enjoyed the book so it wasn't a wasted journey to the library. We've tried to keep up with the Fitzgeralds' drinking over the past couple of weeks. It's all got to come to an end on Monday.

  4. Glad your back Geoff - I missed your lunchtime visits.
    I'm with you on chuffing Gabriel but loved the Kevin book.
    Tell Betty not to bother with her later efforts.

    (...Exits before slide show)

  5. I enjoy my lunch hours, Kaz. It's just the rest of the day that's shit.

    We saw an article by Lionel in The Guardian about a year ago followed by an appearance on Newsnight Review that put us off her. I admit her fiction is better than her fact but became wearing for me after a while.

    I admit to seeing Gabriel live in the late 70s and quite enjoying it. Can't stand him now, though. That Sledgehammer must be the most annoying single and video of the 80s. Well, maybe not as there's a lot of competition.

  6. He's back! He's back! It's the same one!
    The Wire. Gets even better. Even if you only understand a third of it. (That's about as much as I understood too).
    Alan Bennett. Just read Untold Stories. But in the right order. National treasure.

  7. Yay! Another Murakami junkie! It's like Scientology, but a bit stranger. Welcome, friend.

    (Haruki, not Ryu, I stress.)

  8. I had to have the subtitles on for the first few episodes of The Wire. I often wish I had them for the crims at work too. South of the Border... is probably my favourite Murakami. I heartily recommend most of his work, but Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End Of The World particularly does it for me. I am currently reading Almost Transparent Blue by the other Murakami and it's sort of like a Japanese Less Than Zero, which is nice but I have already read Less THan Zero so this isn't going to become a favourite unless osmething really crazy happens in the remainder of the book.

    I also did not finish We Need to Talk About Kevin despite having quite looked forward to it: the whining about how having a child had stopped her from travelling the world and going to brunches and whatnot really pissed me off, as it's what a lot of the you-must-procreate crowd seem to think people without children are thinking. Like, oh my God, having a child is going to change my lifestyle! Horrors! A friend who persevered tells me the ending is quite unexpected though.

  9. Vicus - I'm glad it isn't just us re. The Wire. I know Alan loves being described as a national treasure. It'll be on his gravestone.

    Tim - Now I'm back at work and too tired to read too much it'll be September before I dip into Murakami again. But I'm looking forward to it.

    Violet - I didn't realise there were subtitles available until Episode 3. It does seem a bit strange having subtitles on a programme in English but we use them on The Sopranos, too. It's not the accents, it's the slurring of the words that lose me. Why can't they all have the diction of dear Larry? All the characters in the Kevin book were pretty unlikeable - I presume that was meant. Betty's told me the ending and although I didn't expect that I'm not going to trawl through the rest of it.

  10. Do go back to ...Kevin, it's top notch! The ending is just, well, whoa...

  11. I'll read the last page next time I'm in Waterstones.

  12. I'm not well read, in fact, I've never heard of any of those books, but I'm looking forward to seeing the holiday pics.
    I hope Betty and you both had a fun relaxing time.

  13. Ooh - glad you are both back safe and sound from the far end of the country. The reading sounds good - I've read Double Fault by Shriver and loved it but have picked up We Need To Talk About Kevin in various bookstores over time and as soon as I start reading the first few lines I well...I just can't be bothered and put it back again. There's a new one out isn't there too? I might give that a go. Anyway - just going off to de-rock and read in bed. Alice Munro - great Canadian writer - brilliant short stories.

  14. Istvanski - I can't write about books. I either like them or I don't and after I've read them I immediately forget them. I can write about what I did on my holidays, though. So school was good for something.

    Romo - I'll have to check out Alice Munro. I've had enough Sherlock Holmes this year to last a lifetime. (windin' my way down a Baker Street)

  15. Timbuktu - excellent

    the Kevin book is on my "to read" pile.

  16. My "to read" pile really is a pile. An untidy pile.