Many apologies I’m late as usual but this time I’ve got a very good excuse as I’ve posted not one but two blogs on My Other Blog and replied to the commenters. The first is all about those ‘gatherings’ at No10, with the second an update on the report from Sue Gray, which means I am saying not one word about our mendacious moronic leader on this blog – it’s all on there on the other blog, where it should be of course! Btw, the last time I described Johnson using those words I lost 20 followers, but you all know what I feel about the man, and I think it’s an apt description, all things considering.
So setting aside our abysmal Prime Minister, what has the month been like for you? I hope you’re all well and keeping warm if you live in the northern hemisphere. For me January was the month of the skirt and also the month of viruses, not Covid fortunately, as I tested myself thrice and all were negative. But not only did I have a 2-week cough I now have sinusitis, so I put this down to it being January! What with me still being not 100% my exercise campaign has hardly begun although I am doing some very gentle stretching with my PT for my 1-2-1 which I have started again. Consequently I have put back the pounds that I lost over the summer, but am not particularly worried as I just have to re-start the exercises and walking that I do ordinarily throughout the week and they’ll come off again.
Just as an aside I’m not happy about the message from our government (not saying any more) that we don’t need to do anything now to mitigate the consequences of Covid as in, herd immunity here we come. So it’s no mask-wearing and back to work and school, and just act as though Covid doesn’t exist, actually the latter is essential. But what does it cost to wear a mask? Nothing. However, I note that most shops and stores are asking people to continue wearing masks – yay! And the majority of people I see around and about are still wearing masks in these shops and other indoor venues – double yay and three cheers for the common sense response of the British public! Personally I now wear a FFP2 mask for all forays into indoor places.
As for skirts – nearly all of my skirts got an airing as I put up 21 skirts on Instagram and phew, it was a bit of an effort as I was mid-cough for most of those 21 days! I’m taking a break from Instagram but might return to do a #hatchallenge at some point in the early Spring.
Here’s a reminder of a hat I wear a lot.
And another one.
And a cheerful red one!
So I can’t say I did much last month, but I kept myself really busy doing this and that. For instance I have a project that’s been bubbling away on the back burner that is coming to fruition soon which has taken up a lot of my time – you’ll hear about it at the end of February.
We finished watching Foundation and The Morning Show, and like a commenter on an earlier blog I rather wondered why we’d watched these series – both were a bit glossy and shallow. So we’ve cancelled our Apple subscription but will come back to it when there is more to watch. Btw Ted Lasso will be waiting for us as we only watched Series 1. It really is the sweetest and funniest series to watch, I highly recommend.
We took up a sub for NowTv and watched the amazing Landscapers, starring Olivia Coleman and David Thewlis, which is a highly original take on a true story of a couple who murder the wife’s parents and bury them in their garden. It’s a rather sad story made astonishingly watchable through shifting in a multi-textural way from reality to another reality and then to another. It’s very, very good, highly recommend.
We are also watching Yellowjackets, which is half in the disaster movie genre with a plane crash in the first episode and the surviving young female soccer team members doing their best to live for 22 months in the wilderness, and it’s half a psychological thriller set in the present day with the survivors being blackmailed for, one supposes, what happened during those 22 months. Not for the squeamish but it’s very watchable – we’re hooked! Then there’s The White Lotus which is set in a rich person’s luxury hotel in Hawaii and naturally the rich people are all dysfunctional and things start to unravel – yes we’re hooked on that too!
We’ve begun to watch Trigger Point (ITVHub) which is a gripping series of a bomb-disposal team starring Vicky McClure who also starred in Line of Duty. Trigger Point has the same feel to it – it’s quite exciting but not particularly relaxing to watch!
Then a sober reminder of where populist politics and the reduction of our democratic processes leads is Storyville’s Final Account BBCiPlayer a documentary made by Luke Holland (who we came across when we lived in Ditchling). It is a hard watch as this is the story of the people still living who worked for the Third Reich. Holland is a very good interviewer and gains the trust of the interviewees so well that he gets some chilling statements from them. We are half way through watching it and feel it should be compulsory viewing for us all. Sadly Luke Holland died last year – it’s fitting end to his life as it is brilliant documentary but it’s sad as he was far too young to die.
Also on BBCiPlayer there is the wonderful David Attenborough and his totally glorious The Green Planet. He is so uplifting as is the programme. It’s astonishingly lovely to watch – you gasp at the beauty of the plants revealed in all their wonder. Another of his programmes was the one-off Attenborough’s Wonder of Song, where he chooses seven remarkable animal songs. Another gloriously beautiful and uplifting programme to watch – and gosh do we need that these days!
Finally, for two laugh out loud comedies I highly recommend, We are Lady Parts (Channel 4) which is a sitcom about an all women Muslim punk rock band – it’s hilarious and you also learn a lot about Muslim culture. It’s very, very good. And we are also watching the third series of Brassic (NowTv) which is I think delightful. It follows the escapades of small-time crook Vinnie (Joe Gilgun) and his hapless friends. It’s a relief to laugh at this after watching a serious documentary or a dysfunctional detective series, which they all seem be these days!.
Did I say that we watched No Time to Die (Amazon) on Christmas Day – it’s a 5* film as it was so enjoyable and fun to watch. Then towards the end of December we watched Don’t Look Up (Netflix), which is an end-of-the-world disaster starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s not brilliant but it is a workman-like depiction of how people, especially our leaders, shut their ears and eyes to any notion that a disaster is happening right here and now, which is why the film’s plot line of a comet heading our way has been seen as a parable of our times and akin to the blindness of our current politicians facing climate change. But as I said, not overly brilliant, so 3*s from me.
At the beginning of January we watched a simply dire film that isn’t worthy of any stars. I know I’ve got the kind of taste for films that a lot of you wouldn’t like but this? Sorry Tom (Hardy) your Venom 2 was simply not up to scratch. Consequently I decided we had to watch some quality films and we did.
First was the latest version of Little Women (Netflix), what a great cast with Meryl Streep, Laura Dern (Marmee), Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson and the ubiquitous Timothy Chalamet, who just about got away with his depiction of Teddy. What an excellent film, so 4½* from me.
The next quality film was Being the Ricardos (Amazon) starring Nicole Kidman, which showed us one day in the life of Lucille Ball. I’m old enough to remember watching I Love Lucy at the time it went out – and I remember we loved it. The film centres around the fact that apparently Lucy once was a member of the Communist Party. Oops and oh dear – what a mountain out of a molehill was made out of that! Anyway it was a good and enjoyable film but as it wasn’t totally brilliant, I mean it’s a biopic, it gets 3*.
And then we watched The Joker (Amazon). Yes, finally, we decided to watch the film having avoided it for ages as we thought it might be depressing. Well, the film is not for everyone, but my word, Joaquin Phoenix is a brilliant actor, I was mesmerised the entire time I watched it so again 4 ½* from me.
And finally at the end of the month we watched Munich – The Edge of War (Netflix) starring Jeremy Irons, which was a look at how Chamberlain got his signed piece of paper from Hitler, the one that said there would be peace in our time and no war in Europe – sadly as we all know it wasn’t worth a jot. We thought it an Ok film but worth only 3*.
It’s a bit of a mixed bag for books, but quite a large one as you’ll see! I got lots of books for Christmas starting with the sumptuous The Flower Yard by Arthur Parkinson which is a just a glorious read about growing flowers in containers, highly recommend. I don’t know about you but I can get into a rut of cooking the same old, same old recipes so having seen this cookery book Pinch of Nom by Kate Allinson & Kay Featherstone at my son’s house and thinking aloud that it looked a great cookery book, I got a copy from them for Christmas. And have I cooked anything from it yet? No, I haven’t!
I also got a delightful reference book on fashion What Artists Wear, by Charlie Porter. Love this kind of book and it will stay on my shelves for ever. As will, the Bedside Companion for Gardeners which has a short piece on gardening to read every night – lovely. The one novel I got was rather disappointing. This was Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doer, the author of All the Light We Cannot See, which I adored. Well this one I found hard to get into, I read it to the end but I felt it wasn’t quite up to it, mainly because it charts several lives over hundreds of years, centuries even, but Cloud Atlas, which I did like, did it better. Sadly this might go to the charity shop.
Funnily enough I bought six books from the charity shop this month for a £1 each. And loving only half those I thought that quite good idea – to try out books and see whether you want to keep them. Two went straight back after only reading a chapter or two, which is quite unusual for me. The first was A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggars, anyone read that, should I have kept going? The second was Zadie Smith’s The Autograph Man, I just couldn’t get on with it, was I wrong? The third was The Carer by Deborah Moggah, it was sweet but a bit too light for me, so it went back but I did read it all and liked it.
Of the three charity shop books that I absolutely loved, the first may surprise you, it’s Diary of an MPs Wife by Sasha Swire and a more true blue Tory you could not find! Swire is the wife of Hugo Swire a friend of and Cabinet Minister in David Cameron’s government. And yet it is absolutely hilarious and I adored reading it mainly because her comments are so irreverent and scathing of so many politicians including, I can tell you, our current leader, she sussed him out very early on. Some of the writing though is very pertinent to today, as she shows, to me anyway, how damaged are these public-school boys who have no idea how to behave with women. She’s talking here about David Cameron who’s behaviour to her she thinks funny and endearing, and she clearly fancies him (!) but really it’s all so adolescent and silly. It didn’t stay on my shelves though and back it went but it was a good read for £1.
And now for the two that I have kept. They’re both by Helen Dunmore and I defy anyone not to like her writing, her prose is so beautiful and multi-layered. The first one was Exposure which has echos of John Le Carre as we are in the time of cold war paranoia, and then again it’s a reprise of The Railway Children. That’s enough of the plot. I highly recommend and will keep it on my shelves as I read it with such eagerness and satisfaction, a truly great read. Also enjoying the sixth £1 book, Zennor in Darkness which is set in Cornwall and includes the tale of DH Lawrence’s stay in that part of the country. I’ve just started reading it and it won’t disappoint.
That’s all for now, thanks so much for reading this long post.
If you want to read My Other Blog and those two posts mentioned in the first paragraph, you can access the blog via the icon on the side if reading on a PC, laptop or Mac and at the end if reading on a phone.
Take care and stay well, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper