8th November On BOOKS
Tickets, and books, and tickets.
Hellooooo! Welcome to all. For anyone expecting a free drawing in the post, they should be with you any day now. I hope you like them. I did two different designs in the end, I’ll write a blog about that soon.
And a big thanks to everyone who made it along to see Robin Ince at the Lamb Inn in Eastbourne in Sussex last week, what an absolute tonic it was to be there with you.
Robin did a mammoth set and wrote about it here. Before the show, Robin let me interview him about his creative process and all sorts of diversions, for Series 4 of Wife On Earth, which will be out in the New Year. In the meantime, series 1-3 is available here, and at all the usual podcasts places . For starters, here’s the Science Episode, where Robin guest stars, playing a man who sounds exactly like Brian Cox.
I’ll be doing Robin’s Nine Lessons and Carols for Curious People in London this December but before that, is my new solo character comedy show in a double bill at West End Centre in Aldershot. The review in Manchester this September said ‘her physicality as she portrayed each character was wonderful.’
Would you like to come along?….
It is remarkable to me that I managed to be at Robin’s night, where his books were on sale, and still not get to buy a copy of his book. I’m hoping someone will get it me for Christmas. In the meantime, here is a photo of my current pile.
Anyone else have books dotted around the house for instant reading during small and unexpected windows of time? I’ve got two next to the bed, two on my desk, two in the bathroom, two on the dining table.. This season I am currently reading
English Traditional Customs – Christine Hole
Le petit Nicholas – Sempé-Goscinny
All In The Downs – Shirley Collins
Mathematician’s Delight – W.W Sawyer
Notes From Underground – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Here Comes Everybody – Anthony Burgess
The Etymologicon – Mark Forsyth
True Love – Posy Simmonds
I am also reading Biggles & Co (Not pictured) as a bedtime story. It’s very funny. At one point, Biggles warns Ginger that an enemy is approaching around the walls of the castle, by singing about it to the tune of To Be A Pilgrim, safe in the knowledge that the enemy doesn’t speak English. It’s like a sketch. Bravo Capt W.E Johns, we forgive you the violence and the fact that you spectacularly fail the Bechdel test.
Christine Hole’s English Traditional Customs is so far full of fascinating bits of etymology and history and folk lore. Too much folk lore makes me feel a bit seasick for some reason, folk music has the same effect.
Le petit Nicholas is in French, I am still learning French and probably have the French reading age of an 8 year old. And the spoken skills of a new born baby. I nearly went to Paris this year but would have had to be lightly drunk for the whole time, in order to speak French with any confidence at all. The phrases that spring to mind are ‘on y va’, ‘quoi de neuf?’ ‘c’est ouf’ and ‘coucou’.
It must be awful, the English abroad at the moment (if any of them have made it through the paperwork involved and are prepared to take a chance on cancellation without notice. Everyone shouting phrases they’ve learnt on Youtube during all the lockdowns and not being to respond if they accidentally elicit a response).
Anyway, Le Petit Nicholas is hilarious and I think it’s more hilarious in French than it would be in translation. Nicholas is an innocent little boy who is surrounded by idiot friends and conceited classmates and all the adults have an awful time, all the time. I love it.
There are moments of utter beauty and tenderness, like when his parents realise that Nicholas is growing up and doesn’t need them so much anymore. Their silence puts an actual lump in the old gullet.
All in The Downs – Shirley Collins. Published by Strange Attractor who seem to curate some marvellous tomes. I’m part way in, so far she’s happily married to Ashley Hutchings from Fairport Convention, which is making me realise that my parents and Shirley Collins must have some friends in common. I will quiz them soon and find out what and who, exactly.
I loved hearing Shirley talk so simply and eloquently on Radio 4, about going to America with Alan Lomax in the 1950s and gathering songs with him and some recording equipment the size of a car. Folk music is a bit in my bones, like many people I suppose.
Humiliatingly, I used to sing folk songs at The Swan Inn in Truro when I was about 10 or 11. How utterly awful that must have been. A small child in national health glasses, with no life experience whatsoever, decides to sing about the tragedies of life, from the heart. I can only, in retrospect, apologies. I have an incriminating teenage diary from around that time, where I tried to write poetically from the meadow of Skinner’s Bottom Folk Festival in Cornwall, where Ralph Tickle-On-The-Tum McTell was headlining.
Even though I am now in my late forties, I am still not quite removed from the horro of it, enough to share it.
Maybe I’ll have a pint of Harvey’s and read from it at the next comedy night (which is 29th January 2022, with Isy Suttie and Dyball & Kerr. Isy will be signing copies of her book ‘Jane is Trying’ if anyone fancies getting a copy)
Notes From Underground – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Blimey. This is like reading the source material for so many subsequent writers. Apparently it’s the first existentialist novel and I am blown away by it. It’s witty, brilliant, shocking, what an utter treat. For anyone who’s never read him, I think Poor Folk is a really good one to start with, it was his first novel and is an exchange of letters, so very good if you have limited reading time and need to dip in and out over a course of some weeks. This book on the other hand is rather dense, and I sort of need complete silence to take it in. But who manages to find complete silence for a long enough period of time, you say. Well, gentlemen, you’re right, silence is a rare occurrence in our guitar-heavy house, which is why this one is on the dining table alongside the more bitesize and light-weight…
The Etymologican – Mark Forsyth.
I’m reading this at breakfast. It has sections about the origins of words and sayings, including everything to do with bums and passing gas, and so I save those bits for when I’m not eating. I’m such a sensitive bloom. Talking of bloom… (but we weren’t. That’s you speaking again. And these bits about who’s speaking, are a reference to the Dostoyevsky book).
Here Comes Everybody – Anthony Burgess
This is an introduction to James Joyce, and is very good, but is making me want to get back to reading Ulysses instead, which is probably the point. I do a lot of drawing and making things, so reading time is limited. I just discovered Librivox, the audio book app or website, so I can listen to the classics while carving the alphabet out of rubber stamps. It’s free but you have to find a reader who doesn’t grate. I’ve been listening to a group of volunteers reading Ulysses and it’s really rather good. But it’s hard to carve safely and concentrate so I think I’ll have to go back to my paper copy. Next year is 100 years anniversary since the publication of this novel, anyone else making the journey to Dublin for Blooms Day? If not, there’s a Blooms Day in Northampton too, that may be more achievable for some of us.
True Love – Posy Simmonds
My friend recommended Posy to me and I ignored her. I’d taken Cassandra Darke out of my local library but didn’t even read the first page before it was due back. When I was a kid we seemed to have a due back date that stretched into early adulthood. What’s changed? I know what. It’s having less time to read and too much time online. It feels like modern technology has replaced the things I love. Don’t know about you but I love
Ticking clocks with moving hands
Typewriters and carbon paper
Actual maps that you use an index with
Writing letters and all the stationery that goes with it.
Fountain pens and blotting paper
Ink and ink wells
Pencils and their sharpeners
Stereos and records and shelves of music
Your own reference library in the form of a wall of books with books that contain actual information and citations. Rather than any old plonker writing any old unproven gubbins.
Oh blah blah, string, kittens in mittens, everyone knows these are our favourite things, let’s get back to the books.
Mathematician’s Delight – W.W. Sawyer
This is a great book. I have two copies, both Pelicans’ with different covers. My dad was an astonishingly good maths teacher. He used to tell his classes that if they didn’t understand something he was saying, it meant he’d failed, and not them. The pupils could raise a hand without fear of humiliation and he’d patiently explain the thing in a different way and keep checking that it was clear enough. Having the same mathematical method explained to you in a different way is very effective. What works for one might not work for another. I could give an example but it’d turn this letter into an essay to rival the articles in the London Review Of Books.
Dad made maths learning so fun that me and my siblings used to ask to do pages of sums as a special treat. Me and my sister are still mad about maths and one of the delights of having all my shows cancelled in 2020, was that I got an opportunity to start writing about maths for Aquila Magazine. There was a call out to write about maths in a creative way, which was exactly what home schooling during lockdown had made me want to explore and work on. This is something I’d love to do in the future, if anyone with any business acumen would like to look at with me.
It’s terrible how a bad teacher can put a family off a subject for life. Everyone can do maths because there’s only one answer, you can check your answer and it’s all logical. Let me know if this statement sounds nuts to you, I’d love to know what you think. Do you love maths? Do you feel like it’s closed off to you? Apparently maths beyond GCSE is different, but I don’t know about that yet, I went to Falmouth Art College when I was 16.
Our East Sussex Comedy Night
What’s been happening? Comedy Night at the Lamb is back! Not quite regularly yet but we’re getting there. If you want to be on the mailing list, and you didn’t get the ticket links for Isy Suttie or Robin Ince, please let know and I’ll look into it. We are keeping numbers down to keep everyone safe. It’s hard operating the night and paying the acts with less than half capacity. Soooo if you feel like the shows you’ve seen were a steal (remember Joe Lycett at an early Lamb night? Tickets were £3 and £5) and you’d like to help out for future shows, you can donate an amount of your choosing for an original handmade artwork / drawing. HOORAY, free things!
Just click on the link here and send me the details that I’ll need to post your gift.
See you all in Aldershot! Hahaha