A big thank you to all those of you who wrote, ‘don’t worry, we don’t mind, these things happen‘ after our big IT fail. And an even bigger thank you to everyone who read some of those old posts, I mean many of them had no photos! Yes, the thing is we are having some technical problems. The fail was another reminder that I’ve been writing the blog since 2013, would you believe! And the ‘resource limit’ of our ‘platform’ is beckoning, in fact the blog has actually ‘gone down’ for a couple of hours every time I post. This has to be dealt with, hence our view that somehow we have to remove 2013, 2014, and 2015. But rather than destroy all these posts forever, which was going to happen, Mr F, my technical manager, now thinks we can store them elsewhere. So, you might possibly experience the blog going dark for a few hours again, but we will never bother you with that overload of emails, we’ve learnt not to do that! Apologies again, but how I appreciate you all. I am so grateful that I have such lovely followers.
And yes, this post which is the summary of the month of November, could be a dark negative summary of a cold, damp, grey month with the heavy weight of the pandemic hovering over us. However, I have decided that the theme of the post will take a hint from over the pond (belated Happy Thanksgiving wishes everyone) so this time it is a summary of everything that I am grateful for and am positive about in this month.
Yes, I’m grateful for you, dear readers, and I am grateful that my son and his partner have given me another grandchild. I have one other grandchild aged 14, so it’s been a long time without a baby in the family. So happy, and furthermore, I am knitting again! The last thing I knitted was for my 14-yr-old grandson when he was a baby so I am not very skilled at this, and I’ve produced one little cardi, but gosh I’m finding the sewing up of said garment really challenging. I like the knitting but not the putting it together!
I’ll show you the finished item, when… but it’s taking me forever! Despite this slight irritation, I really enjoyed the knitting part so have decided to start another knitted item that is much more complicated. Taking that mantra of test yourself out literally here!
I am also grateful for our scientists. There are 3 vaccines just around the corner. In this household we’ll be getting vaccinated without a moment’s hesitation. And age truly has its benefits as I expect at nearly 75 I shall be offered a vaccine sooner than some. Btw, there’s no need to warn me of possible side-effects or worse, nor is there any need to urge me to wait. The length of time to bring these vaccines to us has been hugely shortened because of the urgency, and I am of a certain age group that cannot wait, I want to live again! I know no-one amongst my friends who are over 70, who will refuse the vaccines. I have read many articles, and there is a very interesting technical development with both Pfizer and Moderna using a code RNA, or mRNA, to trigger the immune system without using the virus. Fascinating! This is a very big reason to be cheerful. If I have a choice (and I won’t) I’d choose those vaccines. Whatever is on offer, bring it on.
And now we get to an area that I am negative about. I wondered whether I should be saying this and I am sorry if this offends or upsets you. But really, what nonsense is this to relax Lockdown Version 2 while the figures are so high (see this if you think I’m being more negative than I should be) and then on top of that, give us a 5-day break over Christmas with 3 households of all ages able to mix? I’m going to be controversial here, what is this elevation of Christmas over other religious festivals where people were banned from mixing? I’m very uncomfortable about this. Yes, in this country Christmas is mainly about a getting together, but not everyone can do that in ordinary times, or has the family to get together with. Furthermore, this is fetishising this festival over and above scientific knowledge. The scientists are really not keen. Someone is definitely not following the science or doesn’t know much about viruses, which I can’t quite believe… Geez, is the government not thinking of the medics and nurses when cases rise even further in mid-January? Consequently, in this household we are not relaxing our efforts to keep clear of this virus over Christmas. We will not mix with any friends, we will not mix with our family, it will be a Zoom Christmas. To visit indoors and eat a meal, and mix age-groups for 5-days, for us, this is an absolute no.
And that people, is the end of negativity because I have good memories of Christmases past, and there will be other years when we can celebrate together. I am grateful for those and I am grateful for what is in store for us all. Just take care, as the virus doesn’t know it’s Christmas, and that’s all I’ll say.
Anyway, life this month has been much the same. We go out every day for a walk,
We have a good routine, we work at our desks in the morning, we do our Pilates, we keep in touch with family and friends. And we have much to look forward to. In my last post (the one posted an hour before the excess emails) I told you I’d booked two staycations in the UK for 2021 – yay – three big cheers – another reason to be cheerful.
And here’s what we did on Saturday! Yes, we put up our Christmas tree and decorated the flat. A trifle early but I think we all deserve some glitter and fairy lights!
And here is the fairy.
Another reason to be cheerful is that there will be some pantos, yes there will! Some of these seasonal theatrical romps, that were for me a childhood delight, are being held outdoors. The link talks about two outdoor pantomimes in Scotland (brrr) but I know that there is one in Brighton at our outdoor theatre. Hats off to the thesps and their theatre producers and three cheers for this tradition.
I think I said that I was rather tired of reading books that are not much more than a story built around failing middle-class marriages. So off I went and bought Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman. It is about the battle of Stalingrad, and it is beyond my capacity to describe in detail as, very much like War and Peace, it has a vast canvas of people and events, but I got one third the way through it, and just couldn’t continue. It is rather bleak in places. So I picked up on Where the Crawdads Sing, as I had discarded this book after one chapter thinking it to be a bit of a misery-fest, but no, it isn’t. Well, not exactly, as it is a truly lovely and quite haunting depiction of a young child growing up in a near-feral existence in the Deep South. I found her abandonment a tough read yet at the same time the descriptions of nature, the marsh-land and waterways of this area and her interest in this, it is beautiful. But the plot does have its angsty moments! I mean do read it, it’s a good book, but has anyone any books they can recommend that are funny? I could do with a book that makes me laugh.
As you might have gathered I’m a bit of a Chadwick Boseman fan and mourn his early death at the age of 43. We decided we had to catch up on all his films, and having watched Get on Up, the biopic of James Brown last month, this month we watched Da 5 Bloods (Netflix). Four men (including Clark Peters) go back to Vietnam to celebrate the death of their comrade, played by Boseman, who remains his young self throughout, and this might sound ridiculous, scenes from this past are played by the same older men, but it works, and there is, of course, another reason for their return, gold, and that gets them into dire trouble. Don’t be put off though, the characters are well developed and believable, the story arc and script is excellent, and the film gets a well-deserved 5* from me.
In a moment of madness and desire to watch something silly, we watched the old Tom Hanks film, The Money Pit (Netflix). It gets 2* as it was instantly forgettable, as was, rather sadly, a much newer film, Irresistible (Amazon), written and directed by the broadcaster John Stewart. This was rather weak, although it tried its best. Supposedly all about a mid-west mayoral election, with Steve Carrell also trying his best (at being funny) masterminding the Democratic Colonel’s campaign. The twist at the end could be missed if you blinked. Another 2*. A somewhat better film but one that wouldn’t appeal to everyone as it was quite violent (the clue is in the title) was The Assassin’s Bodyguard (Netflix) which was utter nonsense, but it was well made nonsense. It gets 3*.
Clark Peters turns up again in Harriet (Amazon), the last film we watched this month. This is a 4 and half * film. The not quite 5* is because I’d listened that morning to a half-hour slot on Radio 4 on Harriet Tubman and with that hint of an almost happy ending with her family the film fails to get the 5* as it took years for Harriet to get her pension and she died in near poverty. If you don’t know the name, she was born into slavery, escaped to freedom, became part of the ‘underground railroad’ and time and time again rescued enslaved people. She had a hard, hard life, but what a woman. The film is very watchable and thoroughly deserves its nearly 5* status!
Oh how I mourn the end of The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) – what a great television series. I know nothing of chess but with the entire series set around the rise of chess genius in the form of a very young girl, and the games getting more complex as the years go by, that did not seem to matter one bit. It was such a good watch, both gripping and gorgeous to look at. Set in the 50s and 60s the clothes were scrumptious and the period detail a delight. I liked how all the players seemed to love chess and despite their extreme competitiveness, the game was the thing.
Another series that has some gorgeous clothes is The Undoing (Now tv). It starts as ‘did-he-do-it’ (this is the very attractive Hugh Grant) but it has segued into a ‘who-do-you-actually-think-done-it’. Personally I think it’s Grace played by a botox-faced Nicole Kidman. But she is such a good clothes-horse, I just love her clothes especially her coats – that green one. My kind of coat! Yes, it is the tale of the very rich brought short by a murder, but it is good enough to thoroughly grip people and test our patience as well, as the episodes are coming out the old-fashioned way, just once a week.
Also watching the second series of His Dark Materials (BBC iPlayer). As this is from the books by Philip Pullman need I say more? It’s a fantasy and not quite a children’s tale. It’s good and very well made, but not brilliant.
Have you heard of the Small Axe films created and directed by Steve McQueen, the director of 12 Years a Slave? There are five films and you can see them on both BBC iPlayer and Amazon. Each film tells a different story of the lives of West Indian immigrants in London during the 1960s and 1970s. We’ve watched the first one, Mangrove, and it’s excellent, but what do you expect from Steve McQueen. Mangrove is the story of 9 people who were prosecuted at the Old Bailey for inciting riot. It is an outstanding film, and I’m ashamed to say I knew very little of their prosecution, and indeed their persecution by our police. Oh my word, the racism of those police – the nine were, btw, acquitted. This film, I think, is superior to The Trial of the Chicago 7 which was good, but there were too many laughs, and all I can remember of that film was how funny Sacha Baron Cohen was. But I thought about Mangrove for days afterwards. A must-watch, I’d say.
For a totally happy viewing experience I just love Schitts Creek (Netflix). It sounds as though it ought to be awful but it is such a delight as is Gavin and Stacey (BBC iPlayer) which I never watched when it first came along, but if I want cheering up, it’ll be one of these programmes that I’ll watch.
I have been watching some outstanding documentaries. I want to draw your attention to just one of them. It is This House is Full of Music. It is about one musical family of 7 children who all play instruments extraordinarily well. Indeed one played the cello at Megan and Harry’s wedding. I was near to tears at the beauty of their playing. There is a book and you can see the documentary on BBC iPlayer. Another must-watch as it’s very uplifting.
Almost forgot that we’re watching the fourth season of The Crown (Netflix). Honestly, I think this season is rather depressing. Yes, it’s gorgeous to look at but what a family! See above for the kind of family I really admire!
Looking forward to this
Art galleries are my thing, but do let me know how you’re doing and what you look forward to 🙂
With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper