Monday, 28 February 2011


Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I had this whole thing in my head I was going to do about the Oscars, because if I knew one thing, it was that not nearly enough people were writing about that today. But I am running about like a crazy person and I have not only done actual words today (987) but also reading and research. I used the telephonic instrument to speak to a man from the Advertising Standards Authority, for the book. I am usually far to shy to do any actual talking kind of research, but I really wanted to know something about the more outlandish claims of the cosmetics industry.

He was heaven; articulate and polite and patient and helpful. The ASA sounds like a perfect gem of an organisation, fearlessly protecting consumers from harm.

'How do you compare to the rest of the world?' I said, finally.

'Well,' he said. 'I really don't want to be rude to other countries.'

'No, of COURSE not,' I said. 'That would never do.'

'I could say that we are considered the gold standard, here in Britain,' he said, diffidently.

'Oh,' I said, in surprised delight. 'Well perhaps we are not going to the dogs after all.'

'Perhaps not,' he said.

'You have cheered me up,' I said.

Anyway, what with the work and the running about and the brassy boldness of just ringing up the man at the ASA and asking him questions, I am done in, so there will be no Oscar meditation. (I was going to do a whole riff about if you were an alien and you came down from Mars and saw the red carpet etc. I thought it quite inspired as I cleaned my teeth this morning.)

There are a couple of disjointed observations:

I am starting to think that Helena Bonham-Carter is a heroine in the Helen Mirren mould. As in: funny, human, irreverent, really good at her job, and secretly does not give a damn. (That last bit is entirely my own inference.) Colin Firth is clearly not only an exceptional human being, but also really, properly chic. He may have been wearing the best cut dinner jacket since Cary Grant was a boy. I know these things do not matter when the world is so oppressed, but we all need a little frivolity sometimes. And there is something about really fine tailoring.

But my standout thing was the niceness of Tom Hanks. I know everyone says that about him; it's the number one Hollywood trope. Still, it did rather astonish me, when he was caught by a harassed BBC interviewer outside the Vanity Fair party, that he took the time to do the most charming joshing I have ever seen. Almost everyone else was monosyllabic, probably from having to sit through a four hour ceremony. Not Hanks, who was in full antic mode. He made an excellent gag about the BAFTAs having one day to give a prize to an American film, and then, when the interviewer said Thank you very much, Hanks feigned astonishment. 'That's it?' he said. 'That's all? If I were from Wales you would have interviewed me for another twenty minutes.' Then he slapped the amazed BBC fellow on the arm, roared with laughter, and went on to spread the happiness elsewhere. A huge Hollywood star making a WELSH JOKE. It's too much. I imagine that most film stars don't even know where Wales is. I shall love him for that forever.

Also, Hugh Jackman gets huge props for making a cricket joke. 'Thank you so much for not mentioning The Ashes,' he told the BBC. So I love him too.

Pictures of the day are not of couture frocks or scarlet carpets, but of snowdrops and trees and hills and dogs and buds. You would not expect me to break the habit of a lifetime.

The snowdrops in the light:

28th Feb 2

28th Feb 3

Just look at the delightful crocuses. Or is it crocii?

28th Feb 6


28th Feb 8


28th Feb 9

It was minus two this morning, with a heavy frost, but the new spring light is still gentling the wooded hills:

28th Feb 6-1

28th Feb 13

28th Feb 14

28th Feb 15

The hellebores looked dead as dodos last week, but now are raising their delicate heads:

29th Feb 5

If you look very closely, you can see the sky reflected in her eyes:

28th Feb 10

Like dignity on the monument:

28th Feb 12

The hill:

28th Feb 1

With any luck, things will be calmer tomorrow and I shall make more sense.

PS. To those kind readers who have asked: the dear stepfather is home and recuperating nicely. I made him a ham for his breakfast, in the Edwardian manner. Must keep the patient's strength up.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Sunday photographs

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

The hill, and the light.

27th Feb 1

27th Feb 2

27th Feb 3

And now I think of it, there must be dogs:

27th Feb 5

27th Feb 6

Many thanks for lovely comments of the last couple of days. So sorry have not replied; there has been busyness.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

No words

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

No words today. Have done some work, taken a walk with the Older Niece and The Man in the Hat, completed an overdue favour for my godson in Santa Monica, wondered whether tonight will be the night the oyster-catchers arrive. I hear rumours of them in Aberdeen. Can't write though; it's the end of a long week and my fingers have no strength left in them. So just some quick photographs for you.

Crocuses and snowdrops:

26TH fEB 1-1

26th Feb 8

26th Feb 8-1


26th Feb 5

The dog of the Older Niece and the MITH, wet from the burn, with her tennis ball:

26th Feb 2

The Pigeon:

26th Feb 4

The Duchess:

26th Feb 6

And the hill:

26th Feb 1

Friday, 25 February 2011

Bonus post: Mr Anthony Weiner and the changing of the light.

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I went outside just now and the light had changed. It's not just that the sun had finally decided to stay out, but that the quality of it had shifted. The winter sun here is a glorious but brittle thing; it diffuses and dazzles. What it does not do is bathe or gentle. (This is almost impossible to describe in language, so forgive me.) But this afternoon, for the first time, it has taken on the quality of spring light. It spread itself all over the trees like honey, and made the liberal promise of the end of winter.

There will of course be frosts and snow to come. We usually get a big snow at Easter. But this light is the first official sign that there is the hope of the new season. All I need now is for the oyster catchers to arrive, and that will be it.

25th Feb 22

25th Feb 24

25th Feb 25


25th Feb 27

25th Feb 28


25th Feb 23

Can you see how completely it has changed, not just from the last few months, but even from this morning? It feels like magic.

And talking of magic, the real reason I was going to do a bonus post is that I thought you ought to see the very splendid Representative Anthony Weiner defending the privacy of a woman's womb. I have loved Anthony Weiner for a long time. He is passionate, he is committed, he does not always use diplomatic language. He is, I think, on the side of the angels. And he makes the point which has been driving me nuts for weeks, which is: how can all those small government people talk about small government when they want the GOVERNMENT to go into the doctor's office with the women? Whatever the morality, it is intellectual dishonesty of the highest order.

It's six minutes, but it is worth watching the whole thing. Click here for the video.


Posted by Tania Kindersley.

It's been a curious week of work, a hamster week, where my little legs have run very, very fast on the wheel, and I have got not very far at all. The book sometimes goes like that. (I have given up probing the mysteries of the creative process.) I get very manic, and very busy, and very stressy, and abruptly tell people No when they ask me to do perfectly nice things like eat supper with them. I must WORK, I shout, as if they are idiots who sit around all day eating bon-bons. Then, after days of this, I realise I have achieved hardly anything of worth, and go upstairs to the cupboard to get out the Big Sack of Shame.

One of my first thoughts, this morning, as I got up and made some bacon for breakfast, and contemplated exactly how strong the coffee was going to have to be to get me moving, was: must write something cheerful for the blog. It's been a bit serious lately, for obvious reasons.

It's Friday, I thought, time for random frivolity. But since I was waddling about in the Sack of Shame, I did not feel awfully cheerful or frivolous. Because I was in hamster mode, I had resigned myself to yet another day of sound and fury, signifying nothing. But the sun was out and the coffee was good, and I put on some Mozart very loud, and before I knew it, I had done some good, meaningful work.

This has had two effects. The first is excellent: I am now filled with satisfaction, and all ready for Friday joy. The second cancels out the first: my brain is all shot to pieces. All I wanted to do was give you some end of the week loveliness, a heart-warming story from the internet, or a piece of soothing human wisdom (don't laugh) or even a nice recipe, but I can hardly remember what my name is.

I can only think in homilies, which is what happens when the mind goes phht, and I dare not write those down, while I still have some reputation left to protect. Except maybe I will, because what the hell. My sister and I have been staying with my mother, to keep her company while the dear stepfather is in hospital. (His procedure went very well and the docs are pleased and he says even the food is not too bad.) I took the dogs, who adore the Mother, and have a very fine therapeutic effect on her. It was very small, but very sweet, and since I am currently obsessing about the small things, it made me think of what family can mean, in its unheralded daily incarnations.

I used to stamp about shouting about how blood was not thicker than water, but now I wonder. For all its complications, family can bring a potent joy; it's to do with all that shared history, and the stupid jokes, and something as simple as knowing someone very, very well.

So my Friday thought, which is neither original nor terribly well expressed, is that what really matters is The Love. I have been bashing myself all week because I have not been working well enough, and that is about achievement and success and worldly recognition. Those are not unimportant, and I would not do without them altogether. I want people to like and buy my books, of course I do. But just today, for whatever reason, I think that love wins. The line that keeps going round in my head is from grumpy old Philip Larkin, who once said, quite out of character: all that is left of us is love. I think he was right.

Now I am going to stop before I make a complete idiot of myself and never work in this town again. I am definitely not getting enough iron in my diet. You must forgive.

Here are some diverting end of the week pictures, to take your minds off the fact that I seem to have been reduced to talking in bumper stickers.

Some thyme and marjoram which have bravely survived the winter storms:

25th Feb 2

25th Feb 5

A rather wonderful dried hydrangea head:

25th Feb 3

Buds, BUDS:

25th Feb 6

25th Feb 20

25th Feb 11

25th Feb 24

A little bit of green:

25th Feb 10

25th Feb 14

And a little bit of amber:

25th Feb 13

Tree trunks, of course:

25th Feb 16

25th Feb 17

I love these pictures of the branches; they almost look like paintings in the way they have come out:

25th Feb 18

25th Feb 21

The amazing colours:

25th Feb 15

Talking of amazing:

25th Feb 4

25th Feb 8

Oh the nobility:

25th Feb 22

And the serenity:

25th Feb 23

A tiny, wizened rose hip, no less beautiful for all that:

25th Feb 12

Statutory bark and lichen and moss:


And the dear hill, in panorama today:

25th Feb 9


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