“For some time no one had heard our clock, any more than if it had not existed. But for these last few days the living-room was quiet, and then I heard that it was still ticking away. It never let itself get flurried. Slowly, slowly went the seconds in my grandfather’s timepiece, and said as of old: et-ERN-it-Y, et-ERN-it-Y. And if you listened hard enough you could make out the sort of singing note in its workings; and the clear silver bell struck. How good it was to hear once again the note of this clock in which there lived a strange creature! And to have been allowed to stay here in Brekkukot, in this little cottage which was the justification of all other houses on earth, in the house that gave other houses purpose.”
“It was a foggy, cloudy morning, and a dun-coloured veil hung over the house-tops, looking like the reflection of the mud-coloured streets beneath. My companion was in the best of spirits, and prattled away about Cremona fiddles, and the difference between a Stradivarius and an Amati. As for myself, I was silent, for the dull weather and the melancholy business upon which we were engaged, depressed my spirits.”
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
A couple of weeks ago, we sat on our terrace having a socially-distanced drink with a friend.
“Summer in England sometimes feels a little bit like living inside a Tupperware,” he said. “Days and days of muggy greyness, the air thick and still. Then all of a sudden a bit of sun peaks in, as though someone has briefly opened the Tupperware lid.” Continue reading Old Blighty
“Again he shook his head. The world’s gone mad, he thought. The dead walk about and I think nothing of it. The return of corpses has become trivial in import. How quickly one accepts the incredible if only one sees it enough!”
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
I’ve just finished reading Old St. Paul’s: A tale of the Plague and the Fire by William Harrison Ainsworth (1841), which, as I mentioned last week, details the 1665 plague of London, culminating with the Great Fire.
Several hundred years later, here I am (you are) in plagued-London (fill in the name of your city here).
“I think of every little trifle between me and Dora, and feel the truth, that trifles make the sum of life.”
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Have I mentioned that bedtime is my favourite time of the day? It runs in the family. We are an early-to-bed-family … not necessarily early to rise. My Mama gets so excited for bed that she squeals when she burrows under the covers. I’ve inherited that habit too.
“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
Anne of Avonlea, by L.M. Montgomery (Green Gables books)
“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.”
“Fish,” he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.”
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
One of the enduring memories of my childhood is lying on the back seat of our family car, in the still cool dark hours of pre-dawn, still in my pyjamas, toe to head with my brother, and wrapped in a blanket, listening to my parents quietly chatting to one another, as I dosed and they drove.
It’s a peaceful memory, filled with potential and promise. Early morning. Pad kos. The open road.
Note: I don’t do early mornings. I love my sleep. To this day, I’m only really prepared to get up early for a road trip. .. and the promise of tea.
“Good-bye,” said Michael to the Bird Woman. “Feed the Birds,” she replied, smiling. “Good-bye,” said Jane. “Tuppence a Bag!” said the Bird Woman and waved her hand.”
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
I stood in the warmth of the church after the service sipping a hot tea in a paper cup. Outside a small boy, puffer-jacketed, gloved and woolly-hatted ran back and forth on the lawn chasing pigeons. They settled. He charged. They flew up into the chilled air and swirled around him for some seconds. Then they settled again on the other side of the lawn. He squealed and charged again. They took flight. He waved his pudgy coated arms around. They swirled. It was mesmerising, this game. Continue reading Pigeons, Pantomime and Christmas vibes
“John kept referencing something called the ‘Downflooding Angle’. I looked up the term in the ‘Code of Federal Regulations’ – a multi-volume compilation of all US rules covering every conceivable industry from education, to energy, to agriculture, to shipping. The ‘Downflooding Angle’ refers to how far you’d have to tip a boat in calm conditions for water to penetrate the boat’s first nonweathertight opening… With a list like that, you couldn’t stop water from getting in. The vessel would never be able to right itself.”
Into the Raging Sea by Rachel Slade Subtitled: Thirty-three mariners, one megastore and The Sinking of the El Faro
Let me introduce you to ‘Maria’, ‘Irma’, ‘Harvey’, ‘Matthew’, ‘Joaquin’ and ‘Igor’ – all category 4 and 5 tropical hurricanes of the last decade. ‘Florence’ is visiting the west coast of America as we speak.
I love extreme weather … that is, when I’m in my bed cosy and warm.
Last night an early Autumn gale came up and blew eerie groans among the trees outside our window. Reading the newly-published Into the Raging Sea about hurricane ‘Joaquin’ and the sinking of the US cargo ship SS El Faro on 1st October 2015, was about as much reality as I needed. Continue reading Keeping my head above water