Bits and pieces

This is going to be a little ramble through various things that come to mind. Because sometimes a bit of variety among the book reviews is… well, different anyway.

I’ve bought my final book for 2017, everyone. It’s shipping from the US, so may not come for quite a while – but it’s a study of E.M. Delafield published a few decades ago, but which I either didn’t know or (more likely) had forgotten existed. As soon as I heard about it, I thought that was worth of being my last choice – I wanted to go out with a bang – but now I have to wait for a month before buying any more. (I’ll post my whole list of 24 at some point before the end of 2017.)

I don’t think I’ll be able to go crazy buying books in 2018, though. I toyed with doing Project 24 again, but have decided that would just be too painful – but I have very little room left for books in my little flat. And I sent 350 to various homes, charity shops etc when I was preparing to move house, so I’m down to BARE BONES (if bare bones is approximately 3000 books, of course. Which it is.) I might be able to squeeze in another bookcase if I don’t want to open the living room door fully ever again.

I’m trying to write my sketch for the village show. The Thomases have usually submitted a sketch to the show since we moved to Somerset in 2005, though I’ve missed a couple years. In that time I’ve played a Sound of Music obsessive, a Scottish cardinal, a Yorkshire vicar, half of Jedward, myself (in a postmodern sketch), a time traveller, a BBC news reader, a Victorian cameraman, and another BBC representative. We take it in turns to write, and I haven’t done one for four or five years, and I’ve discovered that ‘just start writing and see what happens’ might not be an inevitable winner. But it’s my only tactic – it’s going to be a spin on David Attenborough (played, though he hasn’t agreed yet, by Dad) and I haven’t named any of the other characters. Wish us luck.

I’m in London as I write this, preparing for the first of three days of playgoing – first up is the Sondheim musical Follies, with the divine Imelda Staunton – marking the fourth time I’ll have seen her on stage. Thinking about it, there are a few cultural events I’d recommend from recent trips. The film ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’ is absolutely brilliant – you won’t see better performances than Annette Bening’s and Jamie Bell’s this year, and they’d better get Oscar nods. (Also interesting to hear the sort of accent I might have had if I hadn’t moved away from Merseyside aged 6.) Do go and see it if you get the chance – but take tissues. Less readily available is Sofie Hagan’s stand-up – but head to see ‘Dead Baby Frog’ if you live near one of the places on the remainder of her UK tour. I saw it in Oxford the other day, at the theatre where I volunteer as an usher, and laughed my head off (though it’s also very moving – don’t worry, I laughed in the right places).

People keep talking about doing their Christmas shopping. I haven’t even thought about it yet. Maybe I should use London as a good opportunity to do some… but, instead, I’ll just do it all in a rush at the last minute, I’m sure. But I am in three separate bookish Secret Santas, and I have done the buying for those – partly because they come early, and partly because it’s easily the most fun sort of shopping to do. Yes, I’ll inevitably buy some books as gifts too, for other people, but for the Secret Santas it feels less like a “oh, Simon bought books, quelle surprise” cop out.

That’s enough of a ramble for now, and will hopefully tide StuckinaBook over until I write something about books again. Will I finish The Women in White by the time I’m supposed to be discussing it on the podcast next week, with 400 pages to go? Who can say. But seldom has a book mention of mine got so many “Oo, I love that!” replies on Instagram – encouraging. So far I am also enjoying it, though may have read too many Victorian books of late (by which I mean this is the fourth). So. Many. Words.

8 thoughts on “Bits and pieces

  • November 29, 2017 at 7:42 pm
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    I love my bookish secret Santa buying – though the cost of postage nearly saw me collapse with shock in the middle of the post office. It’s definitely the bit of Christmas shopping I enjoy. I still have loads of shopping to do – it’s a task I find quite stressful and exhausting. Well done on project 24 I would have failed within three or four months.

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  • November 29, 2017 at 7:50 pm
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    I hope you have fun in London! I’m sure you won’t have time to squeeze in another show, but I HIGHLY recommend The Play That Goes Wrong — I spent a week in London last year and saw five shows, and that was BY FAR my favorite. (Even my husband who doesn’t like plays enjoyed it — he was literally crying with laughter).

    And I look forward to hearing about your bookish Secret Santas, I hope you get something good! My real-life book group does a book exchange in which you can steal someone else’s book. My contribution is The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard, I hope there’s someone who will love it as much as I do.

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  • November 29, 2017 at 8:09 pm
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    I *love* the sound of the family sketch – you’ll have to record them for posterity! And definitely bookish Christmas shopping is the best – I really enjoyed searching out titles for my Secret Santee. As for any other kind of stuff – well, a lot of it comes from online, but fortunately my offspring do like books so I get to buy them for family! :)

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  • November 29, 2017 at 10:55 pm
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    That family sketch ritual sounds great fun. Poor da doesn’t know what he is in for clearly. Christmas shopping is a term I refuse to use until Dec 1

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  • November 29, 2017 at 11:09 pm
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    That’s quite a lot of books to have set into the wild, with only 24 to replace them. But I do certainly understand the pressing question of storage space. And it’s unlikely that either of us will stop loving walls lined with books. Happy December-ing to you!

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  • November 30, 2017 at 2:55 am
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    A FAMILY SKETCH

    FOR THE VILLAGE SHOW

    You are surely trying to kill me because that is the most delightful thing I have ever heard. The truly very best of luck! I’m sure your family sketch will be brilliant. PLEASE TELL US EVERYTHING ABOUT THE VILLAGE SHOW. (This sounds pretend. It sounds like something they would do in Vampire Diaries to have an excuse to get everyone in town running around the square at night to be vampire-murdered.)

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  • November 30, 2017 at 11:11 am
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    It doesn’t take much for a Sondheim obsessive like me to start raving about him, but this production of Follies is sublime – I saw it in September and am having to go back in a week’s time for second helpings (well, third; I saw the NT Live broadcast as well). I hope it has a similar effect on you that it did and does on me.

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  • December 11, 2017 at 12:57 am
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    Always interested in your knowledge of E M Delafield. What we need is a definitive biography – maybe you could write one – I’d buy it!!!

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