Adventure: The Durham Cathedral

Today, self:

  • Nearly got hit by a red car in front of Hotel Indigo
  • Had a chocolate cookie with a marshmallow garnish in the Cathedral’s Undercroft Cafe
  • Saw the Durham Cathedral in LEGOs (It’s near the Gift Shop)
  • Saw a Pieta made of wood — amazing
  • Saw Hugh Easton’s RAF Memorial Window in the Durham Cathedral
  • Saw the Marks & Spencer Window at the Cathedral, which is in fact right next to the RAF Memorial Window, but did not cause her to say “Wowie”
  • Saw the relics of St. Cuthbert, including: his “pectoral cross” which was surprisingly small and delicate, a thing of amazing beauty (to imagine a 10th century man having a thing like that on his person, in the northern wilds, is pretty mind-blowing. It was gold and originally held a small ruby. And at the time St. Cuthbert was carrying that around, England was wild, and it was cold and dark, and there was no cathedral. Self is pretty sure he kept that cross well hidden) and the comb the monks used to brush St. Cuthbert’s hair and beard
  • Learned the name of the River which encircles Durham: the River Wear
  • Saw the grave of The Venerable Bede
  • Saw the Hellmouth (Sanctuary Ring) at Durham Cathedral: Anyone who grabbed onto that ring was guaranteed sanctuary for 37 days. Don’t ask self why 37.
  • Wondered why the Ladies’ Chapel, all the way at the back of the cathedral (almost a mile away from the pulpit, lol, wonder if they could even hear anything) was so cold. Much colder than any other part of the church (the parts with the men). Was it because proper ladies were expected to cover up in layers of material ???!!!

No pictures allowed inside the Cathedral.

Self did take a picture of her cookie.

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The Undercroft Café, Durham Cathedral: Thursday, 29 November 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self Can’t Even: MIRROR, SHOULDER, SIGNAL

Heavy reference to Girl With the Dragon Tattoo author Stieg Larsson, pp. 32- 33 (Ellen is the narrator’s massage therapist):

She loves a good crime story. She’s read all the novels by Stieg Larsson, and she’s also read one by Gosta Svensson.

“Now, I do prefer Stieg Larsson,” she says, but that must only be because, during her last massage, Sonja blamed Gosta for wrecking her wrists. For naturally, Ellen must be wild about Gosta. A big reason for Gosta’s success is his tight grip on women. The tweed jacket and the way he’s always photographed in the rain.

Snark!

Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: COLD While Traveling

It seems apt, the theme of this week’s Fun Foto Challenge from Cee Neuner: COLD.

Self is in northern England. In Durham. It took self three hours by train from London, via Peterborough.

Her train pulled into Durham just after dark. She saw a large cathedral. She realized this must be her stop.

Since she hasn’t begun exploration of Durham yet (it’s a very bleak morning), the pictures she’s posting are from her previous stop, Cambridge.

Cambridge felt arctic.

This was Bridge Street when self left St. John’s Chapel after the Advent Choral Service:

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Bridge Street, Cambridge: Sunday, 25 November 2018

And note the bundled up tour guide. Self was on a Cambridge Highlights Walking Tour. We stopped in front of the most fabulous clock.

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Corpus Clock, Cambridge: Friday, 23 November 2018

And, finally, Blackfriars Station in London. The previous night, self stayed in a hotel on Fleet Street so she could attend the Journalists’ Service at St. Bride’s.

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Blackfriars Train Station, London: Thanksgiving, 22 November 2018

Thanks as usual to Cee Neuner for the fabulous prompt.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Poetry Tuesday: Kayo Chingonyi in The New Statesman

Guy’s and St Thomas’ (an excerpt from the poem published in The New Statesman, 23-29 November 2018 issue)

When I’m here in a particular
character of mind
any woman of a certain height —
hair plaited neat
to meet the working day —
becomes my mother
in that year of early mornings
she worked at GDRU
close to this stretch of the river
close to Hay’s Galleria;
the aquarium that is still here
though she is not
to walk with me as we scrutinise
tropical fish
laughing in the uncomplicated
manner that comes
of understanding. And after,
a bankside stroll

Kayo Chingonyi’s latest book, Kumukanda (Chatto & Windus, 2017), won the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Angst in Dead Letters and Missing, Presumed

These two books are mysteries. And each has a ton of angst.

Actually, there’s angst as well in Tana French. But French’s angst doesn’t approach the level of angst in either Dead Letters or Missing, Presumed.

Of the two, self much prefers the hysterical, over-the-top angst in Dead Letters. In fact, now that she knows how Dead Letters end, she’s started re-reading, and it is simply delicious: Nadine, the matriarch, pitches wine glasses at her daughter’s head, the same  daughter who has just returned from Paris, leaving behind graduate studies and a nice French boyfriend, all for the sake of grieving for her twin sister, who stole her boyfriend.

In Missing, Presumed, the angst is due to the main character’s being almost 40 and suffering from a bad case of FOMO. The first half of the book gives almost as much attention to her blind dates as to the missing person case itself. Pardon self if she much prefers the angst in Dead Letters. At least, in Dead Letters, the angst is due to having a horrible, living mother and recently deceased sister (burned to a crisp in a raging barn fire — how can this not be the most delicious of set-ups?)

In Missing, Presumed, there is one really bad guy, and it’s not the perp. It’s that horrible, no-good systems analyst from Ely who hooks up with the main character and softens her up by leaving her eye drops (delivering them in person to the police station!) because she’s developed a raging case of conjunctivitis, which — take her word for it — looks horrible during televised press conferences

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

A Walk: Suggested by Missing, Presumed

A typical boy’s walk in Cambridge:

“. . . along Mill Lane to the news agent where he can buy pick-and-mix; to sit on the swings in Sumatra Road; to Fortune Green where friends from his school congregate in the park and scale the wire fence into the play centre. He is about to turn twelve, is well over five foot, and now walks to school alone.”

Sentence of the Day: Missing, Presumed

  • The more you don’t make contact, the more impossible contact becomes, as if silence can enlarge like a seep of blood.

The writing in Missing, Presumed got stronger, the voice more confident, after about the halfway mark.

Today, self was in Heffers and found yet more books she wishes she could have purchased. But — no, it’s too much. She’s hauling luggage to Durham next.

She had to content herself with taking pictures.

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Heffers, Trinity Street, Cambridge: Friday, 23 November 2018

When, oh when, is The Secret Commonwealth, Book 2 of the Book of Dust, coming out? Philip Pullman keeping very mum.

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Waterstones, Sidney Street, Cambridge: Friday, 23 November 2018

Can you imagine, Emily Wilson, whose translation of The Odyssey self bought in hardcover from Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, earlier this year, is reading tonight in Cambridge?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Aggravations of Being a Woman Detective

Missing, Presumed, p. 329

“Listen, he’s a prick,” says Bryony, “top totty like you.”

“He might still change his mind,” says Davy, who seems back to his old self.

“Davy,” says Bryony. “Let’s not give the patient false hope.”

lol

lol

lol

Stay tuned.

 

Manon Bradshaw, Growing On You

Missing, Presumed starts out like some bad comedy.

Detective Manon Bradshaw, based in Cambridgeshire (Somewhere, maybe Huntingdon) goes on a blind date, engages in anonymous bad sex.

She will have two more dates.

In the meantime, a missing persons case unfolds purely by-the-book.

The point, self thinks, is not the case, but the characters around the police station. Characters like the lovely 26-year-old man with jug ears, Davey. Or their fierce, completely work-obsessed boss, Harriet. Envy is aroused by a workmate who has a brand new iPad. And so forth.

You want to know how Secret Santa is played by police in Cambridgeshire? Head to Missing, Presumed for answers!

Out of sheer luck (or author feeling generous with readers), Manon Bradshaw gets AN ADMIRER! Who is a systems engineer! Wears trainers but so what, he has “elegant hands”!

They have the same taste in movies, end up watching My Life As a Dog together. They spend the entire time snogging (Bradshaw is 39, the engineer 42. Self doesn’t know if these two spending an entire movie snogging is delightful or EEEUUUW)

After, they have coffee.

p. 259:

He loops his maroon scarf over the back of the chair, saying, “I loved the stuff about the dog sent into orbit by the Russians. Think of him and nothing is that bad in comparison.”

Oh, she thinks, you were concentrating.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: DNF

Shorthand for “Did Not Finish.”

First of all, it was so big. When it was mailed to self at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, she couldn’t believe how big it was.

Two English cities (London and Oxford) later, she was still just on p. 21 and it looked like she’d be lugging this book to Cambridge.

Which then led to her asking the crucial question: Is this big fat heavy book that seems well written but doesn’t have a single character self feels she knows (though why should she know them? They’re from rural Wisconsin, for heavens sake!), worth the shoulder strain? Despite fantastic Stephen King blurb on back cover?

The answer, after yet another frustrating evening reading about dogs, was no.

So she’s moved on to an English mystery, Missing, Presumed, which has a very interesting title, much more interesting than the book self just finished reading, Dead Letters. Titles do not, obviously, say everything because Dead Letters turned out to be a fascinating read.

The front cover of Missing, Presumed (which was mailed to her from Kenny’s Bookshop in Galway) shows this:

Missing, Presumed

72 Hours to Find Her

Ooh!

The first scene is a blind date which is very pedestrian but the main character is so lonely that she sleeps with the guy anyway.

Will this woman turn out to:

  • be a self-hating alcoholic?
  • be facing misogyny  in her (police) department where she will undoubtedly turn out to be one of only two, at the most three, women detectives?
  • harbor a deep, dark secret — incest? murder? Or something never before written about in the 101 mysteries inspired by Gone, Girl (which self never read)?

And will the missing really be dead, or just pretending to be dead, in which case would this be similar to the book self just finished reading?

Whatever. Self needs Missing, Presumed to be interesting for at least four hours: the length of the bus trip to Cambridge.

Stay tuned.

 

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