This is euphorbia ‘Fireglow’ and it disappears completely over the winter but it comes back with a vengeance in the spring because it’s spreading like mad, even into the grass despite there being a stone barrier. It does look lovely when it’s fully grown although I think the new growth is a bit brash and phallic looking at the moment.
Some of the pale daffodils in my front garden.
For some reason this pulmonaria which goes by the horrible common name of lungwort has come out looking really insipid. It is in fact three different colours – blue, pink and lilac.
I got this one from Ebay and it’s an original from 1946, I think this is one of the easier Thirkells to get a hold of.
As you would expect it reflects the times it was written in and the characters are all involved with war work and coping with rationing, coupons and black out material.
Miss Bunting, the governess who has been part of the household in many of the better establishments of the county, is helping out with Lady Fielding’s daughter Anne who is deemed to be to delicate to go to the now over-crowded local school.
Although the book is titled Miss Bunting, a large part of it is about the nouveau riche and boorish Sam Adams and his daughter Heather and how they fit into the area.
This is the third Angela Thirkell book which I’ve read and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but this one is by far the one which has most references to things that I think a lot of people nowadays might have difficulty with. There’s quite a lot about politics in it with the then chancellor of the exchequer coming in for abuse, amongst others. The government is always called ‘They’ and it’s as if they have taken over from the Nazis as the big enemy to be dealt with. This must be because the government elected immediately after the war was Labour and the upper classes would have been dead against them.
In fact, there are people who are hankering after the good old days of the war and looking back to the time when the local aristocracy could become a member of parliament for the price of some cakes and ale! But throughout it all Miss Bunting has a recurring nightmare that all of her former pupils are being killed in the war, so many of them already have been, so there are dark moments as well as light-heartedness.
Angela Thirkell used some of the descendants of main characters from Anthony Trollope’s Barsetshire and Palliser books in her books, in some of them they are barely mentioned but the 1940s Duke of Omnium and various others crop up quite a bit in Miss Bunting. There’s still plenty of humour in the shape of Gradka, a Mixo-Lydian refugee who runs Hallbury, Fieldings’ home. One ‘joke’ which runs most of the way through the book depends on people mistaking the Italian word ‘loggia’ for the English word ‘lodger’ and I nearly didn’t get that because you have to read it with an English accent!
A lot of people have been reading and writing about this book recently, so when I saw it sitting next to ‘Mrs Tim’ the other day in my local library I just had to borrow it. I was only supposed to be taking books back and NOT LOOKING – but you know what it’s like.
It’s set in England during the 1930s and people like Barbara Buncle are finding things very hard indeed. Like many genteel people of that time she is living off the small amount of money that the dividends from her inherited investments pay out. Times are hard and consequently the dividends are poor. Paid employment is out of the question, buying hens as an investment is considered and rejected. So Miss Buncle decides to try her hand at writing a book and she uses her own village of Silverstream and most of its inhabitants as ‘copy’.
She sends the resulting book Disturber of the Peace off to the publisher, Abbott and Spicer and Arthur Abbott decides to go ahead and publish. Miss Buncle has been a bit too faithful with her copy, in fact her fictional village Copperfield and its inhabitants are almost a carbon copy of Silverstream and so it isn’t long before the village folks are revolting!
In the second part of Disturber of the Peace, Barbara Buncle decides to (write) right all wrongs by having a ‘golden boy’ walking through the village playing a reed pipe, and when people hear him it makes them do things that they wouldn’t have dreamt of doing before.
In that way Miss Buncle herself takes the part of the golden boy of her book. But the villagers are still clueless as to who the author is and some of them are determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
The storyline is really clever and the whole thing is very funny, it’s a great comfort read. It was her most successful book although I really liked Mrs Tim too.
D E Stevenson was a cousin of Robert Louis S. and so was part of that famous family of lighthouse builders/engineers. Dorothy called her books her ‘lighthouses’ and I think that they really must have been like that as she was so popular during the dark days of World War II she probably saved quite a lot of people their sanity.
Had she been born a boy she almost certainly would have been a lighthouse engineer/designer, as I believe that R.L. was deemed to be a bit of a failure when he didn’t go into the family business.
Although Miss Buncle’s Book is set in an English village, it wasn’t part of Dorothy’s experience as she lived in Scotland her whole life, moving from Edinburgh to Glasgow when she married and then eventually settling in the Border town of Moffat, where she is buried.
Moffat is certainly a nice wee town, it’s a while since I’ve been there but as I recall it has a statue of a sheep in the middle of it and a shop which sells lovely freshly made vanilla ice-cream.
Next time I go there I’m going to take some photos of the town and look for her grave. I hope the good ice-cream shop is still in business!
I’ve just heard on the radio that Disney have bought the rights to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. I suppose that if I were on Twitter this is the sort of thing that people tweet about, but I’m not on Twitter so I’m moaning about it here.
What on earth were the people at Disney thinking about when they decided to cast a 38 year old woman in the part of Miss Marple? Have any of them ever seen a Miss Marple film or TV production?
The whole reason for Agatha Christie writing a character like Marple is that she is an elderly lady, a spinster of the parish of St Mary Mead and people are supposed to think that she’s in her dotage and so they don’t take her seriously.
Marple is meant to surprise everyone and triumph over them all with her superior wits and a long experience gained from observing the inhabitants of her very small village.
They are going to lose the whole essence of the Miss Marple books if they do it any other way. Poor Agatha Christie will be birling in her grave, but I suppose her family felt that they could be doing with the money.
The weather has been really lovely for quite a few days now, well the temperature keeps going up and down but we haven’t had any of that wet stuff recently, which is quite amazing.
Does anybody else have good weather songs? This one always makes me think of sunshine and blue skies, it’s just a really jaunty pop song from the 1980s. Aztec Camera was a Scottish band, I think they all came from just outside Glasgow.
I think my favourite is the first version but if you prefer something a bit more laid back you might like the second version more. The video is certainly much better.
This single was released in 1988, when our sons were just 1 and 2 years old, so I was still walking about with a numb brain due to lack of sleep, and washing nappies of course. Happy days?!!
This is a Virago publication and another one from my 2011 Reading List which I hadn’t realised until I started to read it is actually a book of short stories. I’ve only read novels by Elizabeth Taylor previously and really liked her writing and her short stories are equally good.
It’s usually her cousin Katherine Mansfield who is held up as a great short story writer and I have a copy of her stories which have been reprinted by Folio Books. I used to be in the Folio Book Club mainly because their books are always so beautifully produced. But I would say that Elizabeth Taylor is just as good as her cousin.
In common with Mansfield and Daphne du Maurier quite a lot of the short stories are set at holiday locations and I hadn’t noticed it until now but I suppose it is a good subject for writing about – people watching on holiday.
The blurb on the back says: ‘Like Jane Austen, like Barbara Pym, like Elizabeth Bowen – soul-sisters all – Elizabeth Taylor made it her business to to explore the quirky underside of so-called civilisation.‘ – Anne Tyler
The introduction is by Joanna Kingham, Elizabeth Taylor’s daughter and it also contains an interview of her mother which appeared in her local paper The Bucks Free Press in 1971.
Not so much a Scottish word as a Scottish phrase. My husband claims not to have heard this phrase before, I think he must have led a sheltered life. His mother’s mother was English though and that did mean that he wasn’t taught many Scottish words in the home.
Anyway, ‘a’ dodds a gled’ might possibly be Glaswegian rather than a phrase which is used all over Scotland. If someone says: A wis a’ dodds a gled it means that they were very relieved about something that might have been worrying them. A literal translation is ‘I was all lumps of gladness’ or happiness.
So dodds means lumps or chunks and gled is obviously glad.
This is another book from my 2011 Reading List and unfortunately I didn’t realise until recently that it’s actually the first book of a trilogy. So now I have to track down Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender. They all come under the title Sword of Honour and there was a film of that name made too.
I really enjoyed this one. Yes, it’s wartime yet again and a lot of this book is so like the stories which I’ve been hearing from members of my family for years. As they were all involved in the war this seems really authentic.
Guy Crouchback is a not so young Englishman who has been living in Italy and at the outbreak of World War II he is desperately trying to get into the army to ‘do his bit’, but because of his age he isn’t having any luck. Eventually he gets into the Halberdiers, a regiment which seems to sign-up people who could be described as ‘odd bods
Most of the book is set in various training camps in different parts of Britain but the Halberdiers do eventually set sail for a bit of action.
There’s quite a lot of humour in it which I expect of Evelyn Waugh and he doesn’t seem to be able to leave his Roman Catholicism out of books. Guy Crouchback had married a flighty young woman who has fluttered from man to man in the nine years since their divorce. As they were childless it means the end of the line for the Crouchback family tree as re-marriage is out of the question for Guy. A chat with Ambrose Goodall who is a Roman Catholic convert with a penchant for the English Catholic ‘aristocracy’, (another familiar theme which crops up in Waugh) gives Guy the idea that it might still be possible to keep his bloodline going.
I’m looking forward to reading the other two books now.
As you would expect from the title this book is set during World War II and it's a romance. Not really my cup of tea but I couldn't stop myself from taking it out of the library when I saw it there. Way back in 1977 I gave my mother-in-law a copy of Rosemary Anne Sisson‘s book Will in Love to read. The ‘Will’ is William Shakespeare and it’s the story of his romance with Anne Hathaway. My mother-in-law loved the book, and she wanted more by the same author. Unfortunately at that time Sisson was writing things for TV such as Upstairs Downstairs and The Duchess of Duke Street, and no more novels were forthcoming for some years. That was of course MY FAULT, m-i-l seemed to think that I was keeping non existent books away from her! Such is life.
The good thing about Sisson is that there is no naughtiness, as my mother-in-law was a daughter of the rectory she couldn’t be doing with racy novels, which is such a shame really because they might have improved her.
She would have adored We’ll Meet Again. It begins in 1944 and Anne and Tom are stationed at an RAF base near London. Inevitably they fall in love but as Anne is a very strait-laced vicar’s daughter and Tom is a married man, it’s all very chaste.
When Tom is moved to another base they know that they won’t be seeing each other again and they decide not to keep in contact. After the war they get on with their lives as best they can but nine years later Tom’s circumstances change and he decides to try to find Anne again.
Apparently the book is based on a true story which was told to Sisson by her sister. I did find this a bit schmaltzy, especially at the beginning but I’m not a big fan of romance. It’s a ‘safe’ book to recommend to those of a delicate disposition. Mind you, people like that are usually as hard as nails – underneath it all!