Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In a pig's snout they're maiden ladies

If you think the two old women in Vieux Carré are 'maiden ladies' you aren't paying attention. Mary Maude has a son called Buster, and is alternatively addressed as Mrs Wayne. A lady she may be, a maiden she definitely is not.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Just as with the Campbell Dodgson post, I find myself wishing James Burke was up for making another series of Connections - it's fairly well known that a certain then-actor, having impacted me by playing not only Adrian Mole but also the Whizzkid in Doctor Who 25.4 Greatest Show in the Galaxy, subsequently moved away from acting to focus on the field of mental health nursing.

What's not so well known is that he's now symbolically crossed my path a third time: I shall refrain from saying how, not because I have any cover left to blow but because it just doesn't seem right. Suffice it to say that if you had a certain attribute in common with me, and lived in a certain area of the country, and were progressing along a certain care pathway, you would find yourself crossing his path a fourth time.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Re-reading The Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell. We did this for English O level 30 years ago and I liked it so much I stole a copy from the school bookroom, which I've read so many times that it's falling to bits.

At the stage where the mutiny is just beginning, I turn a page from the right-hand half of the book and it comes away from the binding, and has to be gently placed on the left-hand pile. Eventually a page is reached where the binding still holds - but this point is gradually advancing through the book. Currently it's at the bit where Fleury is coming up with his plan to rescue Lucy from the dak bungalow.

Although I've read it so many times, this is the first re-read in about 15 years, because I went off it when I found so many of the episodes were fairly straight transcriptions from contemporary accounts of the Mutiny (I recommend the Christopher Hibbert book if you want them direct). I know Farrell openly acknowledges this in the afterword, but it still put me off.

I've come back to it because I recently re-read Farrell's first major novel, Troubles, which is to the Irish war of independence what Siege is to the Indian one, and it reminded me of how much I like his style. Like all my favourite authors he recycles plot elements: Faith and Charity (no hope...) from Troubles resurface in the 'foolish, pretty Misses O'Hanlon' in Siege, and the encroaching vegetation in the palm court has its parallel in the encroaching clutter of possessions in the Residency.

I also got hold of his unfinished Hill Station, feat. Dr McNab and Miriam from Siege. It was nice to see them again, and interesting to see Farrell continuing to play with the church controversies he made use of in the former book.

Now pursuing The Singapore Grip, the other of his three major novels - and still wondering if Fleury and his spaniel Chloe owe anything to Flory from Burmese Days and his spaniel Flo...

Updated to say that I caught up with The Singapore Grip, and liked it up until the blatant French Lieutenant's Woman ripoff on the penultimate page, at which point I threw it across the room in disgust and never found out who survived and who didn't. But I noticed the litter of possessions from the Residency reappearing in the abandoned possessions on the road to the Singapore quayside.