Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts

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Sadiq Khan: the new Mayor of London, a self-identified feminist and lover of chocolate HobNobs (aka my kind of guy)

  1. Didn’t do one of these last week because I just hadn’t written enough about books to justify yet another . So this is a two-week catch-up.
  2. The Paris Review interviews with famous authors are all online and free to read. I had no idea. I thought you had to buy the four big fat volumes of them. I might do that anyway, but for now, holy shit, it’s the Grail.
  3. The BBC and Netflix are collaborating to re-produce Watership Down as a four-part series starring John Boyega and James McAvoy. I don’t know how to feel about this. I’m feeling all the feelings.
  4. Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Which…just…I mean, there’s nothing left to say about this, really. Although the ever-illuminating Samantha Field’s analysis of Trump from a progressive Christian point of view gave a name to many of the horrors of his candidacy.
  5. Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor of London: the first Muslim mayor the city’s ever had, and nice to see Labour back in City Hall after eight years of Conservative buffoonery in the form of Boris Johnson. I voted for him (Khan, I mean.) I wasn’t used to voting on paper—I’ve only ever voted postally in this country, and my memories of accompanying my dad to the American polling station as a kid involved those shonky-looking electronic voting booths. It was kind of amazing to literally put a pencil mark on a piece of paper and stick that paper in a box. It made me feel closer to the democractic process, somehow.
  6. Brown eyeliner. Is a thing. That I actually rather like. It’s a softer look than my usual aggressive line of black, and has the added advantage of not rubbing off on the Chaos’s face/shirt/forehead (although that may just be because it’s a better brand.)
  7. Last week was basically pretty shit. A family member died, I felt like a disappointment at work, and I barely got any writing done. The only thing that was okay was that the weather was so beautiful, I went to Parliament Hill Fields for lunch every day.
  8. We went out to dinner in Great Portland Street with some old college friends on Friday. The restaurant was lovely, the tasting menu was delicious, everything was going well, until loud angry shouting noises began emanating from the kitchens. They were repetitive, and seemed to be relating to the fact that a delivery driver was demanding cash payment immediately, without the approval of a manager. After about two minutes of this (and the restaurant was so small that literally everyone could hear it), Lydia, who is a police officer, stood up and—in her glittery night-out top, holding her warrant card—wordlessly walked into the kitchens. It was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. She came back five minutes later and, when questioned, said only, “I told him to shut up and go away unless he wanted to be charged with a public order offense.” Our friend Adam asked, with disappointment, why she hadn’t arrested him, to which she replied, “On a night out? Think of the paperwork!”
  9. Last weekend, the Chaos was going to be in Cambridge on Saturday. Given the bad week, I was really worried I’d spend the whole day in bed, eating cookies. So I made a plan—and then it was gloriously upended by my cousin Sarah, who is a tour guide at the National Theatre. She put out a Facebook plea for people to turn up on Saturday so that she could do an Architecture Tour, which is partly outside (it was gorgeous weather). In the event, I was the only person there, so I got a private tour, which was great: I learned loads about the building (including the rationale behind its ugly design), and we went into the tech workshops, where she showed me a half-finished set and loads of props, most of them horrible and gory (severed heads, bloody leg bones). I also saw one of the horse puppets from War Horse, which is hanging from the ceiling in the backstage area behind the Lyttelton Theatre. It’s just as complex and beautiful a piece of machinery as you’d expect.
  10. Do you guys know Tinyletter? It’s sort of an email subscription service, I think. I subscribe to one called Friday Poem: does what it says on the tin, is often beautiful and always timely. Here’s a different one by Helena Fitzgerald that really rang true with me, on public grief for celebrities as a rehearsal for the real thing.
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14 thoughts on “Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts

  1. Roy Meares says:

    Watership Down is golden. I love that book. Although bunny genocide is tough to actually watch, the story is Werth done. I can’t wait.

    I think I understand the feeling that mailing in a vote is more “real”. It’s like you mailed a personal love letter to democracy instead of shooting it a cold, crass email. It’s strange thing to define what we feel is real, since real is so subjective. Is something more real when we touch it? Taste it? Rub or sweaty brow across it?

  2. Sorry to hear you’ve been having a rubbush week, hope you are feeling a bit better about things now. Brown eyeliner is THE BEST. I’m quite tempted to start doing one of these posts myself!

  3. I subscribe to a bunch of Tiny Letters but I don’t often read them, to be honest. When I do read a good one, I am always compelled to reply, but then I wonder, is it weird/bad etiquette to reply to a Tiny Letter?? Google is no help on this question!

  4. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it, that all the Paris Review interviews are online. I found them a couple years ago. What a treasure! BBC and Netflix will probably do so much better than that cartoon version of Watership Down that I will be glad for it. I love that book! Trump. There are no words. Brown eyeliner is awesome! I have a mineral eyeliner from a company called Alima Pure and it has subtle sparkles in it. So sorry about last week and the death of a family member. My condolences.

    • I can’t wait to see what the new Watership Down will be like. On the other hand, it’s a bit sad to deny future generations the pure horror of the old version…

      I’m liking the sound of mineral eyeliner. A Facebook friend suggested Boots’s Natural Collection, too.

      And thank you. He was very ill and it is much better that he’s not suffering, but it’s all so damned unfair. I’ll be writing about it in Litro (tomorrow, actually.)

  5. Ella says:

    All I want now is to see Lydia in Police mode. I thought I was satisfied with getting to hold the shiny badge last time I saw her – not any more…

  6. So sorry to hear about your loss, i’m glad there can be some sort of upside in the suffering ending.

    I’m not sure I could cope with a live-action Watership Down, I can’t even bring myself too read the book the animation haunts me still.

    Your friends Lydia and Sarah sound wonderful – I’d love my own private architecture tour.

    • If you’re ever in or near London, I highly recommend it! They’re pretty undersubscribed – she’d have just canceled the day’s session if I hadn’t turned up, and spent the glorious afternoon indoors doing paperwork – so you’re likely to get a good, personal experience.

      I’m crossing my fingers about Watership Down. I loved the book so much, but you’re right; everyone who’s seen that old animated version is scarred by it.

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