It’s the 1st day of September and while I could be saying where did that month of August go, I rather think the more appropriate thing to say is, where did our summer go? Because in the UK we had one week of hot weather in June, another in July and no actual what I’d classify as hot days in August. In fact the mornings are getting quite chilly! And I don’t think I’ll be wearing my red sun hat any more!
This was taken a few weeks ago when there was some warmth – the tee is loose and I wore the hat that day.
But through August it’s been the kind of weather that goes through the four-seasons in one afternoon as you just never know if you need a raincoat, or a sleeveless dress, or some layers to help you get through an outdoor lunch on a chilly day!
Anyway, it’s been a really happy month – in parts (see next paragraph below). We’ve stayed in Lewes in my daughter’s house again and chilled in the garden. I’ve done a lot of dead-heading, which I find quite addictive! I have to say my joints ached for days afterwards from almost too much walking and gardening! And I found several items of clothing for the Autumn/Fall season in the Lewes charity shops and you’ll see them soon!
The month has been particularly happy because we’ve seen several of our friends, two of which I hadn’t seen in person since before ‘you know what’ and that’s a long time, too long, but it was lovely to just pick up on old friendships. Then there was one set of friends we met by chance in that very breezy river-side bistro in Newhaven (my second visit) and it was also so nice to see them again. Is this the same for everybody, I think it must be, but how we’ve missed normal day-to-day encounters with friends and acquaintances. It’s the rich pattern of life to do so, and so necessary for ones’s sense of self and sanity!
We also began going out mid-week, and one of those occasions was to a museum for an exhibition – oh what joy, because that is what I like doing more than anything else.
But the happiness has been tempered by the devastating events that fill the news and media. First and foremost, I read the articles on the fate of the Afghans, and put them in a pile to read again when I get my head round writing about the fall of this country to the Taliban. I will write this post, but I just can’t at the moment – there is so much to say and so little one can do. Indeed, one could get quite down about the news, so I’m avoiding it more and and more, which is quite a turnaround for me as I’m usually someone who believes one should face reality and aim to understand what is going on. But I think to stay sane it’s important to surround oneself with culture: books, films, and good television, you name it, whatever takes your fancy. However before I stop I’ll just mention two matters that can’t be avoided.
Covid cases in the UK are sky high and apparently 26 times the levels that were experienced this time last year (I can give you the references for this and other facts in these two paras if you want) and yet there are days when I think the government, and a lot of the population of this country, are sticking their fingers in their ears and going la, la, la, la! Because nobody is self-distancing plus, pretty much all restrictions are removed and it seems we are to ignore this virus and just get on with life. Yes, I know this time it’s the very infectious Delta variant and I also know that hospitalisations and deaths are down, but the thing is many of us, including me, do not want to get Covid because despite being double vaccinated you still can get it. And people are dying – far too many – and yet we are, apparently, meant to tolerate this. So there is a divide in this country and for me, it is not a pleasant situation, this doing-away with all measures to mitigate the consequences of this virus. Perhaps I am more aware of this because I live in Brighton where cases are high because we are a holiday hot-spot in every sense of the word. But I do feel that it’s madness to be so lax and laid back about this pandemic.
And then there is the shortage of UK delivery drivers resulting in fewer products in supermarkets with gaps (which is what I’ve seen) and in some areas actual empty shelves. A lot of people are blaming Covid, yes, that’s part of the reason why this is happening, and then there are others who say it’s absolutely all down to Brexit, and, yes, again that’s part of it because 14,000 drivers from the EU have left the country and only 600 have returned. Then we hear that it’s all due to drivers retiring and not being replaced fast enough. We need 100,000 of these drivers and there’s no way that’s happening soon. But there is also a view that this is down to the lack of investment, over decades, in people and skills, and that includes the skills needed to drive those huge HGVs, plus there’s the not much of an incentive to become a delivery driver what with the lack of decent facilities (as in just basic toilets and showers which are usually not available at the HGV lorry parks). Then there are the low wages for these drivers, which is as ever about cutting costs in order to, in turn, keep the cost of food down. And then would you believe it, amongst other shortages there’s a shortage of blood test tubes, so non-emergency routine blood tests are being cancelled. It just makes you think that there’s a lot of things that need sorting, which won’t happen with this very inadequate and mediocre, and, I have to say, somewhat-absent-this-month government (because they’re all on holiday) we’ve got. And with that I shall shut up and say no more!
And here’s two more views of my daughter’s garden to cheer you up and me too!
What I’ve been watching
Films are back in the cinemas, consequently there seemed to be fewer good films on the usual platforms. Nevertheless, we watched 4 films of which 2 were outstanding, one was OK and the other, forget it! The first film was one we’ve seen before, The Matrix (Netflix), which is the first of that trilogy and amazing that despite being made in 1999 it hadn’t aged at all and all the special effects were as good as any made today, apart that is from the clunky phones! I expect you all know the plot so no need to spell it out, but the storyline felt as good as ever. For me, it’s a 5***** film but the dystopian feel might not suit everyone.
The second outstanding film was Judas and the Black Messiah (Amazon) which is based on the true story of the young charismatic Black Panther leader Fred Hampton played by Daniel Kaluuya (of Get Out fame) and the infiltrator William O’Neal, played by Lakeith Stanfield, who spies on him for the FBI. It’s a very substantial and satisfying film, which is brilliantly played by both actors. Ultimately the story is a tragedy as Hampton was so young, he was only 21 when he was brutally gunned down, for goodness sake, did no-one think of bringing him lawfully to trial!!!! O’Neal also committed suicide some time later. Now that may sound so depressing, but it isn’t, because as I saw it, it was a very interesting insight into race relations in the States. 5***** for this film, it’s really well made and good.
For light relief, we watched a film from the Marvel Universe, Iron Man 3 (BBCiPlayer). Actually I’ve always found the character Tony Stark played by Robert Downey Jr supremely irritating, but somehow I’d missed Iron Man 3 and I didn’t find him as grating as I usually do. It was entertaining and enjoyable and passed the time, but only 3*** for this.
Now, apologies to everyone as last month I raved about Disney+ and some television series (Loki, the Mandelorian and WandaVision) that I aimed to watch. After a couple of weeks I thought what am I watching? All three were too, well, Disneyfied, because as you might guess I do like watching something with substance and a little bit of grit, and even something dystopian. Reader, we contacted Disney and got our money back. Phew, what a relief as Disney+ is not a platform for us!
We continue to watch the delightful Secrets of the Museum (BBCiPlayer) and for drama we are currently watching, The Chair (Netflix) which is excellent and beautifully written and starring Sandra Oh as the first female chair of a university English Department. There’s lots of university politics to get one’s teeth into and it’s altogether a delight – well worth watching. Also on Netflix is The Defeated, which is set in bombed out Berlin at the end of the Second World War. It’s a non-Hollywood series made in Germany although half the dialogue is in English as its main protagonist is an American played by Taylor Kitsch. It’s a thriller and it’s really quite good, but not on the same level of sleaze as say, Babylon Berlin, nevertheless it works, so I do recommend it. And finally again on Netflix is Ragnarok, which is absolutely not in the Marvel Universe, instead it’s a Norwegian television’s series that reimagines Norse mythology set in the present day. It is so refreshing to watch, especially if you’ve had the misfortune to watch the evening news as it is unreal, and takes you away from the reality of everything, but it’s OK as it’s well acted, and anyway I love everything Norwegian so it’s definitely a hit with me!
This month I read two books by Clare Chambers, The Editor’s Wife and Small Pleasures which were both excellent reads and am half way through another Chambers book, BackTrouble but I’m not going to finish it for reasons you’ll hear shortly. I really liked Small Pleasures, it’s prose is spare and economical, a style I like, and there’s an intriguing plot around a possible immaculate conception. But the one I liked best was The Editor’s Wife with an aspiring novelist taken up by his London editor and his utterly lovely wife Diana it seems he just might become a roaring success, however, there are misjudgements galore which results in disaster for all involved. But hey it all ends happily ever after. After the Editor’s Wife I read In the Dark by Deborah Moggach and can’t remember a thing about it.
And then when I was half way through Chambers’ Back Trouble I came to a stop and thought I cannot bear to read another book about families and relationships, it’s too samey. I want some real in-depth, serious reading. So luckily I was in Lewes and my son-in-law picked out several meaty books for me from his library to read, including: A Daughter of Isis. The Early Life of Nadal El Saadawi, In Her Own Words, Simone Weil’s On the Abolition of All Political Parties (intriguing), Jonathan Franzen’s What If We Stopped Pretending (about climate change) which is only 17 pages long with a second essay entitled The Game Is Over. Petro-consumerism Won so that’ll be an interesting read! And JohnBerger’s Here is where we meet, which contains a short story on him meeting his dead mother and conversing with her.
This latter book is quite relevant as I’m attempting to write a memoir of my mother. Having given my father a huge amount of my time when I edited and published his memoir, it’s my mother’s turn, although she is a more tricky as she left no writing at all, so everything will come from my memory – but I have quite a story to tell! Anyway, I shall probably be desperate for a simple read of relationships and family life after all that! But it’s good to get out of my comfort zone.
There is another book I want to share with you, but I’m going to leave that to my next post as that’s enough for now. Do let me know how you all are, and how August went for you 🙂
With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper
P.S. And here’s one more photo of a summer outfit. Not sure whether I shall wear it again unless, that is, we have a warm September.
Both skirt and top were bought new but I love the colour combo, which is cheerful and bright!