Leontia Flynn: The Bloomsbury Hotel, 1939 – 1945

Self cannot believe that the hotel gives away these precious little poetry collections, collections of all the poems written about The Bloomsbury Hotel.

Here’s an excerpt from a Leontia Flynn poem about the hotel during wartime:

Shutter the windows. Tumble down the wall.
Sleep under a curtain in the swimming pool
and shelter in the old gymnasium.
After the talks, the shying and denial,
War has come again. War: the word’s a bomb

on everyone’s lips.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry About the Bloomsbury Hotel, London

They give poetry books to each guest, which is how self happened upon this poem by Jo Shapcott:

New commission

It’s a hot night. We walk our wheelies from the tube.
The brick walls seep warmth. On the way we smell shop-
flowers through the traffic, hear church bells, loiter
in the odd sweet spot until we’re here, looking up
at a paradox of double steps. Still curbside, we sense
that if there’s a muse of stairways, she lives here,
inside these buildings made of red brick and rain.
Through the doors and we’re inhabiting a chandelier
or library or a chapel or a cave, and our minds flash and glow
with noises, words and tastes until our hearts have softened
inside our bodies and when we leave, the street is silk under
the lamps.

 

#amreadingpoetry: Anne-Adele Wight

  • Imprudent
    you go about like a tiger
    not knowing you stir the real beast.

from “Imprudent,” included in Ann-Adele Wight’s poetry collection, Sidestep Catapult

Matthew Hopkins, Witch-Hunter

In the 1640s, a self-designated witch-finder named Matthew Hopkins “toured the counties of Norfolk, Essex, Hants, and Sussex, in quest of witches.”

In one year he brought no fewer than sixty to the stake.

Method of detection: “swimming”

  • The right thumb of the suspected person was tied to the toe of the left foot, and vice versa. She was then wrapped in a blanket and placed on her back in a pond. If she floated — which we are told was generally the case when placed carefully upon the water — she was guilty, and was burned forthwith; if she sank, she was innocent.

— Sax Rohmer, The Romance of Sorcery

Only the preposition “she” is used, throughout this section. Self can only assume this means: No male witches, ever.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Unforgettable Ketchikan

The way Jonathan Evison describes it, it’s a really depressing place to end your Alaska cruise:

  • A working-class town smelling of barnacles and rust, wood rot, and diesel smoke, wet dog hair in heaters, and fish nets hung out to dry. Despite civic-minded efforts to splash some vibrant color about, there’s no disguising the town’s blimp gray underbelly.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

You Should Not Have Gone On That Cruise, Harriet Chance!

Nearing the end of Jonathan Evison’s novel, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!. Self began reading it in, of all places, Paris. It’s been very entertaining. Only wish there had been more of Rudy, the Filipino cabin steward.

The Alaskan cruise which is the “frame” for this novel about Harriet Chance’s entire life, isn’t such a good idea. The views are breathtaking, but the people are anything but. Self is so glad, because now the novel has cured her of the desire to go on an Alaskan cruise. All you do is gain five pounds and spend dinner talking to strangers.

p. 266:

“Y’all mind if I join you?” says a morbidly obese fellow, who has materialized suddenly at the end of the table. He’s clutching a Caesar salad and wearing a black T-shirt that says I SEE DUMB PEOPLE.

What is Harriet’s obsession with other people’s weight? As if to oblige her, most of the people she meets on the cruise are overweight.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still Reading: THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE!

Hugely enjoying this Jonathan Evison novel from a few years back, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! Turns out Evison isn’t even remotely close to being the age of his protagonist. That is what happens when you have imagination!

pp. 94 – 95:

“I feel so strange,” says Harriet. “Am I . . . dead?”

“Not yet,” he says, examining the television remote. “Trust me, you’ll know.”

“Should I be frightened?”

“Won’t do you any good,” he says, setting the remote aside. “Don’t bother planning.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: About Folk Remedies

  • So the right eye of a serpent, being applied to the soreness of the eyes, cures the same, if the serpent be let go alive. So, likewise, the tooth of a mole, being taken out alive and afterwards let go, cures the toothache; and dogs will never bark at those who have the tail of a weasel that has escaped. Democritus says that if the tongue of the chameleon be taken alive, it conduces to good success in trials, and likewise to women in labour; but it must be hung up on some part of the outside of the house; otherwise, if brought into the house, it might be most dangerous.

— Sax Rohmer, The Romance of Sorcery

Quote of the Day: The Borgias’ Poison of Choice

  • Their method . . .  was to administer arsenic to a boar, and, so soon as the poison began to take effect, hang the animal up by the heels. Convulsions supervened; and a froth, deadly and abundant, ran out from his jaws. It was this froth, collected into a silver vessel, and subsequently transferred to a bottle hermetically sealed, which constituted the liquid poison.

— Sax Rohmer, The Romance of Sorcery

#amreading: About Ancient Egyptian Incense

  • A recipe for its preparation is contained in the Ebers papyrus, and Ebers says that three different varieties were made up by L. Voigt, a Berlin chemist. That from the formula of Dioscorides was the best. It consisted of resin, wine, Galangal root, juniper berries, root of aromatic rush, asphaltum, mastic, myrrh, Burgundy, grapes, and honey.

— Sax Rohmer, The Romance of Sorcery

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