Saturday, 30 October 2010

Books...and a new puzzle

I did promise a blog about books, and so here it is.  The recent book I've read was called 'Tintin in the New World'.  It's not a comic, and it wasn't written by Herge but by Frederic Tuten.  It was a very interesting book, not a huge amount in the way of plot but more about growing up.  Some of it I have to say was a little over my head, but for anyone who was a fan of the original stories it is a must read, after all, don't you sometimes wonder what happened to your childhood heroes after the last story?
Some of you may have seen the new TV series 'Thorne' which aired recently...I haven't.  But I have recently read one of the books about the detective and really enjoyed it.  It is really well written and has great observational touches as you would expect from former stand-up Mark Billingham.  What really led me to it was the fact that Thorne himself lives in Kentish Town and all the places mentioned were immediately recognisable to me.  I have another of his to read now.
A classic now and 'Catcher in the Rye' by JD Salinger.  It's one of those books which often gets compared to and mentioned in various circumstances but I had yet to read it.  I have to say I enjoyed it.  The protaganist wasn't exactly a character I could like (I'm probably too old to really identify now) but I had to agree with a lot of his observations about people and the world.  What staggered me was that the majority of them were still true today in terms to the way people act and behave.  A thoroughly recommendable book.
I'll finish off by mentioning Iain Banks, one of my favourite authors and I've read several of his non-genre books but until now none of his sci-fi books.  Recently I did read 'The Player of Games' and am currently reading 'Consider Phlebas', and they are both great.  I used to read a lot of sci-fi but found that they tended to have a very bleak philosophical look on the future, but his books don't have this quite forced down your throat.  They are simply stories set in a different world to this one in which the same basics are the same.  That's why they work.  They are also infused with a great deal of wit and humour as you would expect from Banks.  Once more, well worth a read.

So now to a puzzle.  This is a straight/quick crossword which is actually 4 very small ones within one to make it a little trickier.  A cryptic puzzle is on its way.


5. Sum
6. Thin Metal
7. Image
8. Kingdom
11. Applies crudely
13. Off by heart
15. Sun
16. Nauseating smell


1. Crucifix
2. Flees
3. Adhesive
4. Strong rope
9. 'Inferno' author
10. Cowshed
12. Packing box
14. Very small

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Woodland Tales

Got back from Sweden in mid-week, after having travelled out there last weekend.  It was great to see my girlfriend again after having spent about ten days was tough.  We took a walk on the Sunday into the woods where we picked some mushrooms, and I was shown some very very large rocks.  We spent some time looking out over Gagnef from a hunting hide and on the way up we saw pigs in a neighbours yard.  It was wonderful to breathe such clean and fresh air and to see the unspoilt landscape of trees and distant hills, rivers and rocks which were dragged by the last ice age.  Having been brought up surrounded by concrete and cars I find these other landscapes more wonderful than I can really describe and in some ways can't help feeling a little jealous of those who have been brought up within them.  However, all romance is lost when you find out that you saw bear poo in the woods and that wolves have been close by recently.  The mushrooms we picked were delicous though.

We also did the usual things of meeting some family, but also Erica's aunt from the united states, so it was nice for me to have someone else there who spoke good english.  Even received a t-shirt from her (a tradition is that she brings them over for the whole family) so that was very kind of her.

Back home to the cold now since I have no working heating here in the flat.  Sitting in sweaters and gloves, hats and woolen socks.  It's a pleasure to cook since that is the warmest spot.  I plan to blog in the next few days solely about books.  I've read several recently and should share at least some of my findings.

Finally, the puzzle answers.  The previous blog actually has a comment with all the correct answers in it, so by publishing it I thought it would be easier than typing them all in myself.  Well done to that person, whoever they were.  And of course the linking year to all the clues...1666.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Puzzle Update

Well it seems as if my last post has drawn some interest, which is good.  I have received two comments, both with the correct year, along with a mystery phone caller at work with the correct answer.  They must get a special commendation really since even I don't even know the telephone number, so they must have done a lot of digging!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Puzzle Time

I've decided to create a cryptic puzzle.  Below you will find the clues and below that is the grid in which they fit.  You will have to excuse it a little since it is create using Paint...but anyway.  Now the clever thing is that all the answers link to a particular year.  Once you've got the answers (or some of them) make a guess at the year.  I've hidden comments on my blog for the moment so you can send me the answers without others seeing them and I will give out the answers in roughly two weeks time.  Good luck and have fun.

2 Moroccan dynasty changes a late IOU (8)
4 Differentiating professor (8)
7 Noah makes another one for US city (6)
8 Punctuation not applicable for Italian pillar (7)
10 see 11 Down
12 Danish journalist sounds like he's getting on (7)
13 Savoury or sweet for dessert (7)

1 Philanthropist is coarse (but not right) (4)
3 & 9 No dress for wild radio transmitter (6,4)
4 Anatomist in Moscow persuasion (6)
5 Engraver sounds like he's shouting (6)
6 Painter has left mix (4)
9 see 3 Down
11 & 10 Across. Wonderful year - if you have the latin (5,9)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Underground Musicians

From the title you might think that this will be a post about busking on the underground, but it's not.  Although now having mentioned it I can't help being reminded about the annoying man simply drumming at Waterloo sometimes who continually looks extremely smug.  I mean, drumming.  It's an accompaniment to music, not music itself.  Especially not at five thirty at night when you're trying to get home.
Anyway, that off my chest...this is a story about this morning on my way to work when two people got on at Camden Town carrying three large pieces of luggage as well as two large guitar cases and taking up half of one end of a carriage.  When I heard their accents I couldn't help thinking to myself "stupid Americans".  Then I couldn't help but give an inward sigh when I realised they'd completely blocked up one door and were obviously going to be caught out by the fact that the platform at Warren Street is on the opposite side of the train to the platforms either side.  But being too much of a Londoner I didn't say anything, and only looked on smugly when they indeed found that they were in the way.
However it was due to this incident and a rearrangement of belongings that I ended up being able to read the name tag on one of the bags.  Devon Sproule.  I then couldn't help becoming extremely impressed with this couple (for it was indeed Devon with her husband).  Reasonably famous musicians still slumming it on their way to Heathrow on the Underground, despite the fact that they could probably have afforded a taxi all the way there, or failing that the Heathrow Express.  And doubly impressed for being Americans taking the underground after their government have issued warnings about being in Europe.  So very well done them.
Couldn't help feeling a bit guilty afterwards though.  Still it would have been great if they could have taken that annoying drummer to America with them too.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

More Poems...And Yes, I Am Still Alive

Well, its been a long while since I got around to blogging.  Lots of reasons for that, one of which is that for the past two weekends I've been away from home.  Two weeks ago I was in Falmouth, for a cousin's wedding.  It was held in Pendennis Castle, an old Tudor fort and made for a wonderful atmosphere.  They are both scottish, and so there were kilts and a piper and it felt like heading back in time, as if witnessing a marriage ceremony in the remote highlands of Scotland.
Falmouth itself is a lovely place, with tasty cornish pasties, a wonderful climate with unusual vegetation and a relaxed atmosphere which is nothing like London.  Erica found the air a lot friendlier to her lungs too.  Perhaps I could see myself living there in the future?
Last week was a school friend's wedding, although I was invited only to the after party.  But it was still good to see him so happy.  Their live music was an intriguing trio of blond girls with large breasts singing songs from the 70's, 80's and 90's along to backing tracks, with matching outfits for each period.  I'm still not certain whether they were good or not.

So, to my new job.  I've been there about five weeks now I guess but still don't feel as if I'm settling in.  I'm not exactly certain why.  The commute on the Underground isn't fun, for sure, with packed carriages on the Jubilee line, and even packed platforms sometimes.  The office is also extremely quiet, with hardly anyone talking to anyone else, and when they do it's solely about work.
It's not that people are unfriendly, they're just very involved in their work...and that's a concept I struggle with.  It can make the days incredibly long sometimes.  The work itself I am actually enjoying, and it may be that once I've been there a bit longer and I get some more tasks then I won't feel the need to talk to anyone.  But I doubt it somehow.
I know that I need to move on somewhere else, but even that is no simple task and I can't really afford to run the risk of having no work at all.  I currently have a vague idea of taking some bookkeeping courses, so at least I have a professional qualification to my name and could make it easier to get work in future.  We'll see.

Other than work and the weddings very little else has been going on.  I am desperate to move to a bigger place so that I get some creative space to do writings and such, but with Erica still without a job it is not yet possible.  An oven would be good too of course.  And a decent fridge and freezer.  And a washing machine...hopefully sometime soon.

I have written a couple of poems at work though, slightly odd ones, but here they are anyway:


I'm growing mould
To fight my cold
Is a silly thing to say.
Although it may
Be true.
It cannot be that good for you.

Running Bales

A thousand running bales
and ten unfurling sails
amongst gigantic whales.
I wish that I could see.

Imagine bales running
while bronzed-babes were a-sunning
Watched by comics punning.
I wish that I could see.

And would those bales racing
with men to do the pacing
be back or forward facing?
I wish that I could see.

With water jumps and hurdles
and gold encrusted girdles
the bales would make one curdle.
I wish that I could see.

Yes I wish that I could see
out the window next to me
all those bales running free.
A thousand running bales.