Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Random Tuesday

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I haven't done a random post for a while, so here are a few of the things jostling about in my head.

1. As I hit serious middle age, I keep wanting to make lists of the things life has taught me. The list usually goes:

A. Things are rarely as bad as they seem.

B. Er, that's it.

Today I remembered one more tiny truth I do know. It is: it is always better to say the thing. You see that I am a perfect Socrates. It's like poetry, isn't it?

What I mean is the thing you are hugging to your chest, because you are slightly ashamed or embarrassed or you don't want to make a fuss or bore people or bang on or be self-indulgent. It's what the old friends and good family are there for. Once you tell the thing, it is out, and when spoken aloud it is never quite as awful as you thought. This is my theory. It might need a little more work.


2. My favourite small political fact of the week:

Apparently everyone is very cross and disappointed with Mr William Hague for not having enough foreign policy. Clearly, some of the critics are longing for the good old days of Palmerstonian gunboat diplomacy. Although I do see that it might be nice to have a bit of policy, when it comes to Abroad. But my favourite part of this story is that the grumblers are complaining that the Foreign Secretary spends most of his time correcting diplomats' grammar. I don't have very strong feelings about William Hague, but this tiny fact makes me rather love him. I have a wonderful picture of him sitting in the Foreign Office going mad over dangling modifiers.


3. The library row rumbles on. A fellow was on the radio today saying that we don't need libraries because we have Kindles. I was reluctant to embrace e-books, but I do have the Kindle now for my iPad, and I see that the electronic book may live quite happily along with its papery sister. What I did not know, and what has quite shocked me, is that e-books are very expensive. I suppose as a writer who lives on royalties I should feel pleased about this, but I find it quite wrong that an ephemeral electronic download should cost as much as a physical object. The second thing which is very disappointing is that the variety of books available for the Kindle is excessively limited. At the moment, it seems to consist almost entirely of crime procedurals. The e-book revolution is going to have to go a long way before it can compete with the palace that is a public library.


4. Odd statement of the week:

'You've got to have action, not just words and mouth.' This was the Shadow Chancellor, on The World At One. I did not know 'words and mouth' was an idiom. I can't decide whether I shall adopt it, or not. Not sure if I shall be saying to people: oh look at you, with your words and mouth.


5. For my perfect combination of a Good News Story and proof that the Young People of today are not all a bunch of celebrity-obsessed idiots, click here. When I was nineteen, I was flirting with rowers, listening to too much Leonard Cohen, and obsessing about the Napoleonic Wars; the boy in this story is preventing his comrades from being blown up with bombs.


6. And talking of good news, here is my headline of the day: HERO GRAN STOPS THIEF. A gang of six men was busy robbing a jewellery shop in Northampton, using a sledgehammer to smash in the windows. The jewellers locked the door and hid. Members of the public stood by, until, from across the road, a seventy-something lady in a bright red coat came running. She lifted up her huge black handbag and started whacking the thieves about the head with it until they ran away. So that's felons with sledgehammer - nil; granny with handbag - one. Don't mess with the Hero Grans. Fabulous video footage here.


7. For various reasons, I am thinking today of Shakespeare. I think of all the famous speeches; of the quintessence of dust, the gentlemen of England now abed, the poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage. Sometimes, though, I only need one mere line, like this one:

Oh, excellent. I love long life better than figs.

I'm not sure why. It's something about the juxtaposition of life and figs. It's the very sound of the word figs in the mouth. It's genius, that's all.


Now for the pictures. It was another drack day, but the trees looked like clouds:

8th Feb 8

8th Feb 9

8th Feb 12

8th Feb 11

8th Feb 13

8th Feb 15

Then there were the bare trees:

8th Feb 4

8th Feb 5

8th Feb 16

The old trees:

8th Feb 16-1

The lichen:

8th Feb 17

The canines:

8th Feb 6

8th Feb 10

And the hill, barely visible against the slate sky:

8th Feb 3.ORF


  1. Your posts never fail to make me smile. I love #7 the most. Figs. I adore F-words in general, but this one is especially delicious.

  2. Hero Gran pleases me enormously. Further proof of my little theory that red coats (and shoes) are the way forward.

  3. Thank you. I've been getting myself in a state not saying the thing because I know in ym head it is silly. But then there it is being hugged to my chest. I think those two points are pretty much it but then I have a lot to learn I think!

    I really like the idea of saying "words and mouth" now and the concept of life and figs as comparable items. This post has made me smile when feeling a little pale blue.

  4. genius truths you give us. loved the shakespeare fig quote. i will roll that one around in my head today.

  5. 'Always better to say the thing' is excellent advice. Also applies I think to when you want to comfort someone who's had something appalling happen to them, and you're not sure what to say. If you say the thing, you might make them cry but at least you aren't ignoring what has happened.

    Is 'just words and mouth' perhaps a slightly more polite version of 'all mouth and trousers'?!

  6. Are you sure it wasn't "words and youth" and he made a verbal "typo"?

    I too love that "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps on this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time"...

    Say the thing thing makes me think of that quote; "Don't sweat the small stuff...and it's ALL small stuff."

    Bouncing all over my head today. Thank you for an anchor or three!

    Pat (in Belgium)

    WV "mayste" (Is that a namaste request?)

  7. Mary - so glad. Thank you.

    Alex - yes yes for the red coats.

    Siobhan - know the pale blueness. So pleased you are smiling a bit though.

    Sarah - glad I am not the only one who loves the figs so.

    Claire - think you are spot on about mouth and trousers. Possibly he suddenly thought he could not say trousers on the BBC. And quite right too. :)

    Pat - the last syllable always sends shivers up my spine.

  8. Lovely post and such sound advice to say 'the thing'. I must take it!

    The crime fighter in red was wonderful. Although I did wonder when anyone was going to step in and help her...

  9. Hero Gran headlined NZ's tv world news coverage. I'm not sure what to make of that but, nevertheless, she is amazing. I am especially impressed she came running from some distance to intervene.

    Loved your list.

    Thought the canines looked beautiful but chilly today. I have no doubt they were much indulged indoors.

  10. Hi Tania,
    I am a first time visitor to your blog as I came across it just a few min.s ago while googling on your book. The pics on the blog are super and I am looking forward to reading the posts.
    At the mo, this is a quick message to let you and Sarah know, how very much I enjoyed reading your book. Have been going through it in bits and pieces over the past few months and finished reading it last night. Very well written, very amusing, entertaining and insightful. Brought a smile to the face quite often and I have underlined countless lines in the various pages :)
    I am also linking your blog to mine and look forward to reading your posts.

  11. Michelle - do not fret. Huge amounts of warmth and blankets and biscuits inside. :)

    Deep Sea - thank you so very much for such kind words about the book. It is always lovely to hear about people reading and enjoying it, especially so long after it came out. And WELCOME to the blog.


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