Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tome Time - Shabby Tiger by Howard Spring

Started September 3rd, finished September 5th.

I have decided to read more books based around my local area.  Manchester, Lancashire, the North West, etc.  This book is a favourite of my mum's and one I've been seeing on the shelves forever.  It was about time I read it.

The tale starts with Anna, a maid, running away from her job.  She meets up with Nick, an artist, and their story is told.  It incorporates many other characters, all of whom added interest for me.  The cast spans the Manchester classes from just above the very bottom to the top.  With those in between not always happy with their lot.  It was written and set in the 1930's.  It's still recognisable as Manchester and gives a fascinating viewpoint of the city.

None of the characters are entirely sympathetic or totally loath-able.  They're all pretty much in between.  Much like normal folk I suppose.  This isn't a dreary kitchen sink drama about the state of the nation's poor.  It gives a window into life but never dwells on anything.  This is no miserable read.  It's fun, although not so on every single page.  It rips along at a great pace.

It has encouraged me to read more about the local area.  Starting with the sequel Rachel Rosing.

Unfortunately the book is no longer in print but is available via the usual 2nd hand sellers.

It was filmed for a Granada TV series in 1973.  Luckily I managed to get a DVD from Amazon.  That is going to be interesting viewing as it was filmed where it was set.

4 out of 5 pawprints

If anyone has any recommendations for books set around the NW of Engalnd I'd love to hear them.

Next - The Cats on Hutton Roof by Marilyn Edwards

I've been invited onto Goldfish & Paracetamol

I know, I know, this blog has been shamefully quiet of late.  Real life has got in the way of my online meandering.

I have however managed to get my nose through the door over at my friend Paul's blog, Goldfish & Paracetamol.

Here I describe my first venture into Big Finish.  Paul & Odile finally got me to listen :-)

It's very nice over there at Goldfish & Paracetamol, lots of Whoniverse, publishing and Cult Britannia stuff.  I highly recommend you have a good look around.

I promise to blow the tumbleweed off these pages sharpish.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tome Time - Catwatching by Desmond Morris

Started September 3rd, finished September 3rd.

There's not much you can say about this book that the subtitle 'The Essential Guide to Cat Behaviour' doesn't tell you.  It's a fascinating read for cat lovers.  You may know some of the reasons behind some of your cat's behaviour.  There's bound to be the answer to more than question you've had at the back of your mind for years though.

I flew through this in a couple of hours.  It's a pretty short book with no flannel.  Just explanations for why cats do what they do.

It's a pretty old book.  So I'm unsure as to whether it would still be seen as totally accurate.  I'm sure some of what is given as explanation is opinion based on his long years of experience. Maybe views of parts of it have changed.  

It's not a cat care manual just a very interesting look at felines. 

5 out of 5 pawprints (naturally)

Next -  Shabby Tiger by Howard Spring

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tome Time - Redshift by Alan Garner

Started 5th September, finished 26th September.

I really expected to love this book.  The Weirdstone of Brasingamen, The Moon of Gomrath and The Owl Service could have been written for me personally.  It also fulfils my want to read more books set locally too. 

However, as you can see from how long it took me to finish the shortish novel, it didn't grab me at all.  I just couldn't get into the story at all.  The way it's written doesn't help.  It's virtually all told via dialogue.  Not a style that helped me immerse myself in a story I didn't really grasp anyway.

The story is told in three different times. Roman Britain, the Civil War and present day.  A sign of how badly I received this book is that I thought the modern day setting was the future for a long time.  I didn't recognise the characters at all.  I didn't care for them much either.  The only time I felt any emotion really was for the women in the Civil War era.  Without a quick look at Wikipedia I wouldn't have realised which era I was reading about at all though.  I thought at first they were other, supernatural planes.

I think either I'm too thick for this book or my mind doesn't work that way.  I just couldn't fully understand it.  I gave up once and came back to it.  Thinking a fresh mind would help.  The further I got in, the easier I found it to read but never did a fondness arrive.

If I had to say the story it's telling it seems to be one of love.  Love not going smoothly and heading towards great disappointment.

I still think Alan Garner is a wonderful creator of worlds and great stories.  It's just that this one is most definitely not for me.

2 out of 5 pawprints

Next - Twisting My Melon by Shaun Ryder

Monday, October 3, 2011

Edward II at the Royal Exchange

This was the season opener at The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.  An impressive building that's worth a visit even if you're not attending a performance.  The building is definitely worth viewing and they have a lovely cafe and craft shop with some impressive things on sale.

I knew the gist of the story and had heard of the famous final scene.  Otherwise I hadn't read or seen this one before.  I had read two muted reviews in different Times' newspapers which didn't fill me relish at the visit.  This was on;y worsened by the most lacking programme I've ever purchased at the Exchange.  It was very poor.  No synopsis, no background to the play.  A nice 1950's timeline.  Full cast and crew and a heap of ad's.  It seems the theatres are struggling with cuts and nowhere was this in more in evidence than the programme. 

As the play began I did enjoy the 1950's setting much more than the reviewers had.  It worked well for me.  The 1950's seem to be the last decade where people dressed to a certain standard throughout society.  With the freedom of the 60's we lost the formality and stiffness in what we wore.  The costumes were excellent, as always.  The sets were more bare than I'm used to at the Exchange but very good.  

The cast didn't disappoint either.  The only weak link was the young Prince, I couldn't hear all his lines but he was very young.  Gaveston was played by someone who reminded me very much of a young Martin Sheen. The bits of Martin Sheen that I appreciate, not the annoying side. Isabella was played very well by Emma Cunniffe who I have to mention has just been in Dr Who ;-)  The King came across very well as a pathetic, petulant monarch.  This wasn't a play where I had much sympathy with any one character for long.  That may have been part of my problem with it...

Despite it looking great, good cast, lovely costumes, well acted I got bored.  the first half seemed to drag into eternity.  I can't have been the only one as there was more than one misplaced round of applause as members of the audience assumed the interval had arrived.  It picked up a little in the second half but once again began to drag.  I couldn't hate any of the characters but I couldn't like or respect any either.  Not enough empathy or emotion to keep me hooked.  The language was easier to follow than Shakespeare.  Which helped ease things.  I must be pretty lonely in my view as this is heralded as a classic and it doesn't look like it will stop being staged any time soon.

3 out of 5 pawprints