Saturday, 31 January 2015

Page 56. Vera Brittain's War Diaries.

This week I went to see the film, 'Testament of Youth'. I remember the television five-part series of 1979 very clearly and thought that the film had a hard act to follow. The story is taken from Vera Brittain's book of the same name, first published in 1933.  A series gives ample time to develop character and I recall being thoroughly immersed in Vera's life and loss. I think that the film did a good job at establishing her relationships, although there was a bit too much close-up soulful looking to camera for my taste. The lighting, as with most film and theatre productions these days, was excellent and the whole story well handled.
Vera used her war diaries as source material for her book. When I got home I pulled my copy of 'Chronicle of Youth', which comprises edited entries from her diary, published, I presume, because of the keen interest shown as a result of the television series.
These are the photographs that Vera and her fiancee Roland Leighton exchanged in December 1914. Roland died in December of the following year.

Page 56  has the dairy entry for  February 9th, 1914 when Vera was twenty years old,  all her loss and heartbreak had yet to come. It gives a very clear picture of her lively personality. (And I've met a few 'Mr Dodd's' so know just how she felt!)

Mr Dodd went off, managing with great difficulty to stop talking. If his appalling piety and benevolently patronising manner towards women were not such an amusing study, it would be a distinct trial to me. As it is, it rather entertains me to be treated something like I treat my cat - as a being of utter irresponsibility and inconsequence, to whom no confidence or affairs of importance could possibly be imparted. Not that the poor man means any discourtesy, on the contrary he is all the time trying to show great deference to the "weaker vessel" on account of its weakness! But he is one of those persons more deadly to the cause of woman's freedom and independence than its most ardent opposer, for it has never occurred to him that there is such a thing to be opposed. Woman to him has always been inferior  as a matter of course and her position not even arguable!

For Freda's Friday 56, where we grab a book, turn to page 56, find a sentence or so, post it and add to Freda's linky.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Patti's Visible Monday

I'm a bit white rabbit today... I'm late, I'm late.... Time to link up with Patti. It's cold, it's dull, I'm very much in winter mode, wearing a long woollen dress by Meza.
It's a bit of a shapeless thing on it's own but looks a whole lot better when I add the belt from
that comes in it's own little drawstring bag.
It is a satisfyingly well-made. I had looked for a decent belt for AGES and was so pleased when I found this one. There are plenty of belts in the shops but nearly all of them are let down by really tacky buckles.
The other cheer-up for me is a chunky necklace. This one came back from a holiday in Lanzarote and is made of coloured lava.
The green stone is set asymmetrically but it tends to wander to the centre!
That's life!

Page 56.

At our last book group meeting we discussed Tolstoy's 'The Kreutzer Sonata'. Although a small book, a novella, it caused a very lively debate. Our copy was one in the Penguin paperback series of 'Great Loves'.
In my opinion this story has nothing whatever to do with love! It certainly upset Tolstoy's wife, Sofya, because it, like his other novels, drew heavily on their own life and it did not paint a happy picture (to say the least!) The story was completed in 1888 when Tolstoy was sixty years old.
It's interesting to look at the Penguin list in the series. Quite a few I know, others not - it's a tempting collection.

Freda holds a Friday 56 when you are invited to take a book, turn to page fifty-six and find a sentence or paragraph to post and then link back to her.
Page 56 from 'The Kreutzer Sonata' gives you a good flavour of the whole book!

'The vilest thing of all about it,' he began, 'is that in theory love's supposed to be something ideal and noble, whereas in practise it's just a sordid matter that degrades us to the level of pigs, something it's vile and embarrassing to remember and talk about.'

It would be good to think that the concerns in this book were historical, relating only to the late 1800's. Sadly it's not the case. Our discussion was VERY lively.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Friday 56 for Freda's voice.

Page 56 from, 'The Jane Austen Book Club' by Karen Joy Fowler.

'Sylvia had uncorked a nice Petit Syrah, something that went well with cheese and crackers, the rain and the fire. Jocelyn had drunk just enough to feel companionable, not quite enough to feel witty. She was holding up her glass so the firelight came through it. It was a heavy, faceted crystal, a wedding gift once, now unfortunately clouded by thirty-two years of hard water in the dishwasher. If only Sylvia had taken proper care.'

I've just returned from our book club evening so this is a good extract for me to quote. (Although we did ourselves proud and ate considerably more than cheese and crackers!)

I've read this book before and enjoyed it just as much the second time around because it is full of gentle humour and kindness. It concerns a group of disparate people drawn together by their appreciation of Jane Austen's literature. They treat each other with understanding and compassion. I returned to it after reading, 'We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,' finding it hard to believe that they were written by the same person.
If the cold and rain is getting you down you'll find  Jane Austen's Book Club is a good comfort read!
The same cannot be said for
which I found a powerfully troubling and thought-provoking book. It has an amazing twist quite early on in the story. The only other novel that has given me such a jolt early in the telling is Roth's,  'Human Stain' which is another fantastic read.'

Linking up with Freda's voice.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Skywatch Friday

Paris for Skywatch Friday

In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing
About the dark times.

                                                                                                  Bertolt Brecht.

Monday, 12 January 2015

La Belle France

Paris, the beautiful city, remains just that after my television viewing of last night. The cameras showed streets filled with people making their commitment to freedom and humanity and a stand against any divisions brought about by colour or creed. What a sight! Policemen stood as sentinels on the rooftops and were greeted with cheers and chants of appreciation. There were enough people on the Unity March to represent every single Parisian. Flags of all nations were waved, politicians of all persuasions walked arm in arm. Let us be hopeful.

My two holiday makers, on their jolly in Paris, however inappropriately timed, had a good time. They stayed in the hotel used by Woody Allen in his film, 'Midnight in Paris'. I received this information when I collected Himself from the station in Bath on his return and felt rather envious - I love that film. Never mind, he brought home his hotel goody bag for me to rifle through!
Trivial - moi? You bet!
Today is not a day for going out, it's cold, wet and windy. I'm dressed for comfort and warmth. Lilac shirt from Boden, lilac cashmere jumper from Lands' End, purple velvet waistcoat also from Boden.
It fits closely to the body, just the thing for days like these and it has a nice grey-striped fabric back.
My friend Janet Haigh, the owner of Heartspace, made the enamel and bead brooch that is pinned at the neck.
For Patti's Visible Monday.

Thursday, 8 January 2015


What has been done in the name of religion absolutely appals me. My loved ones are in Paris this week having a special time together.  They have emailed to say that they are fine.
The trip is a combined Christmas and birthday present to Himself from our elder daughter.
Our daughters lead busy lives and the time that we spend with them is limited. The deaths of three friends in as many months at the end of last year reminded us how precious is time spent together.
The photos that are being emailed to me of their exploits demonstrate that they are eating well!
But have you heard the expression, 'while the cat 's away the mice will play'?  This mouse has had a girls' lunch and a girls' night in. Puddings were eaten and the world put to rights!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Fashion on the 1st.

I'm planning to record whatever I happen to be wearing on the first of every month of this year. The first photo is what I arrived home in at three o'clock in the morning after a lovely start to the NewYear in the company of neighbours, food, drink and dancing.
Light and warm Oska coat. (Big brother calls it my duvet.)
I wore my favourite wool jumper from Bella Freud over a Jil Sander dress
with a black net petticoat to create a little more length to the skirt - but mostly because I just love net petticoats!
On New Year's Day we went to a friend's studio
I wore black velvet pants and white blouse from Uniqlo with a warm purple cashmere cardi from Jigsaw, all old and comfortable clothes.
The blouse is rather cleverly constructed with a detachable central panel giving you two styles in one.
It's the very devil to iron!