2008 April archive at Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

Archive: April ‘08


30th April, 2008
Educating Rita; Willy Russell
— Love @ 17:15 Comments (1)
Filed under: B, English, Plays

Educating Rita Educating Rita
by Willy Russell
British

English
123 pages
New Longman Literature
ISBN: 0-582-43445-9

First line: I was born in Whiston, which is just outside Liverpool.

Back cover blurb:
Rita feels that life is passing her by. She wants an education but does Frank, her lecturer, have anything to teach her? Willy Russell’s play is a hilarious yet moving account of a young woman’s determination to change her life.

Thoughts: I’ve read Russell’s The Wrong Boy previously, and it’s one of my favourite books, so when I found this play of his in the bookshop I knew I had to have it. Plus, it was cheap, which was another reason to indulge (this thus failing my two-month no-new-books embargo. At least it was on the last day of the two months).

I wasn’t disappointed. Russell is funny and I really liked this play. I did wonder, though, if perhaps the language had been modified to suit the “14-18 year olds of all abilities” that the back cover says this printing is for. Not that it matters much, since it was still enjoyable. Plus, there’s an intro from Willy Russell himself and that was a nice touch.

I’m giving the play a B grade and declare this my come-back to reading.


30th April, 2008
Contest winners and correct answers
— Love @ 15:02 Comments (5)
Filed under: General booktalk

I have tallied the scores and here are the contest winners:

First prize: Banquo with 16 points
Second prize: Kim L with 5 points

(They were, I might add, the only two people to enter.)

So, Banquo and Kim L, comment on this entry or e-mail me at love DOT esbjorn AT gmail DOT com to let me know whether you want the Amazon .com or .co.uk gift card.

And now, for the correct answers:

1. Now & Then by William Corlett
‘I have to speak to you’, he says.
I look at him, waiting. He is wearing the school uniform of grey flannels and a grey V-necked sweater. But, instead of the striped school tie, he wears the cricket XI cravat, tucked into an open-necked shirt. His black hair is longer than I am allowed to have mine. He wears it with a side parting and it falls forward over one eye like a crow’s wing. As he looks at me he runs a hand nervously through this lock of hair, pushing it back away from his brow. He has dark blue eyes, and very black eyebrows, and his clear, unlined face has a dark shadow of stubble on the top lip and round the beard line.
He is still holding on to my arm and his nails are digging into the flesh just below the elbow.
‘You’re hurting,’ I say.
He lets go at once. He is extremely agitated. He pushes the hair back with his hand again and walks over to the window so that he has his back to me.

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
‘I have not the smallest objection to explaining them,’ said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. ‘You either chuse this method of passing the evening because you are in each other’s confidence and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; — if the first, I should be completely in your way; — and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire.’

3. The Wrong Boy by Willy Russell
So I told my Gran. I told her about the row I’d had with my Mam. And I told her about Malcolm. I said, ‘I’ve made up this boy, Gran. And it was all right at first but it’s all sort of gone wrong now because my Mam won’t talk about anything else; it’s Malcolm this and Malcolm that and Malcolm morning noon and night. And my Mam loves Malcolm now and it’s made me dead jealous and I know that’s stupid because Malcolm’s just an invention. He’s just a figment of my imagination. He’s sort of … apart from the American accent, he’s sort of … the boy that I used to be, before the canal. And before everything happened to the little girl.’

4. A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson (this is sometimes known as The Secret Countess, so I awarded a point for that answer as well)
Panic gripped Rupert. Even Proom, immuned as he was to the devastating effect of Anna’s curtsies, stepped back a pace. For here was homage made flesh; here, between the bust of an obese Roman emperor and a small, potted palm, Rupert, Seventh Earl of Westerholme, was being offered commitment, servitude, another human being’s all.

5. Mister Midshipman Hornblower by CS Forester
On the deck he forced himself to lounge nonchalantly against the rail, putting his shaking hands into his pockets. His excitement made him weak, nor was it lessened as he waited. Every minute before the fire cold be discovered was important. A French officer said something to him with a triumphant laugh and pointed aft over the taffrail, presumably speaking about leaving the Indefatigable behind. Hornblower smiled bleakly at him; that was the first gesture that occurred to him, and then he thought that a smile was out of place, and he tried to assume a sullen scowl.

6. Making History by Stephen Fry
‘I need you Steve. You have to help me find a library.’
Steve dropped some dollar bills onto the beer-sodden table and hurried after me.
‘Jesus man, what has gotten into you?’
‘Where’s the nearest?’
‘Library? God’s sake, this is Princeton.’
‘Any good one will do. Please!’

7. At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill
Doyler had been right: the rain came in the evening, and it was still pouring when Jim pushed with the shop bike up Ballygihen hill. The shiny asphalt, the mop of trees, the chimney teeth with a chip off the middle, the squeaks of the wheels which seemed to complain of piles and the falling damps, the mudguard spitting wet: the world conspired with his thoughts and everywhere he looked was Doyler’s presence. Ahead lay Killiney Hill, it’s obelisk stark against the last cloudy light.

8. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Our inquiries at Limmeridge were patiently pursued in all directions, and among all sorts and conditions of people. But nothing came of them. Three of the villagers did certainly assure us that they had seen the woman, but as they were quite unable to describe her, and quite incapable of agreeing about the exact direction in which she was proceeding when they last saw her, these three bright exceptions to the general rule of total ignorance afforded no more real assistance to us than the mass of their unhelpful and unobservant neighbours.

9. As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann
We camped that night at Alresford, where Cromwell’s old comrade, Richard Norton, kept the manor. The talk was all of sieges. They said we might be over the walls of Basings-House the next day, and spirits were high. There was even the odd bawdy song, which one of the officers stopped to reprove. He was not a stern reprover. The young man pleading that he sang for the music only, he was given leave to hum the tune without the words.
I had no heart to sing. My sole thought was how to soften and win round my friend. He kept away from me, his face averted, and looked so unhappy I would almost rather he had hit me. Going to where he sat cross-legged tearing at a bit of cheat, I seated myself opposite him and put my beef, the best part of the ration, into his lap.

10. Standish by Erastes
The days gradually settled into a routine. Every morning, Trent appeared with the little trap and took Ambrose to the house. Sebastien would meet him, either on the steps or in the hall, and together they would go to the schoolroom. For three hours they would study languages, literature, and mathematics, then stop to eat luncheon. In the afternoon they would explore the grounds, concentrating on botany, geology, and natural history.
The other thing that swiftly became a routine was letters from Goshawk. After the first day at the house, Goshawk was absent. When questioned, Sebastien simply shrugged in his pretty Gallic way and said, ‘Papa is away.’

11. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Beyond the first smile of recognition—and even that was an hypocrisy, for she thought his arrival rather provoking—Miss Sedley did not once notice Dobbin during his visit. But he was content, so that he saw her happy; and thankful to have been the means of making her so.

12. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Clare continued to observe her. She soon finished her eating, and having a consciousness that Clare was regarding her, began to trace imaginary patterns on the tablecloth with her forefinger with the constraint of a domestic animal that perceives itself to be watched.
‘What a fresh and virginal daughter of Nature that milkmaid is!’ he said to himself.

13. The Giver by Lois Lowry
Now, for the first time in his twelve years of life, Jonas felt separate, different. He remembered what the Chief Elder had said: that his training would be alone and apart.
But his training had not yet begun and already, upon leaving the Auditorium, he felt the apartness.

14. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L Sayers
The day begun badly with Mr. Tallboy’s having lost his lucky half-crown and with Mr. Copley’s observing, offensively, that perhaps Mr. Tallboy would prefer to toss with a pound-note. This flustered Mr. Tallboy. Brotherhood’s won the toss and elected to go in first. Mr. Tallboy, still flustered, arranged his field, forgetting in his agitation Mr. Hankin’s preference for mid-on and placing him at cover-point. By the time this error was remedied, it was discovered that Mr. Haagedorn had omitted to bring his wicket-keeper’s gloves, and a pair had to be borrowed from the pavilion. Mr. Tallboy then realized that he had put on his two fast bowlers together. He remedied this by recalling Mr. Wedderburn from the deep field to bowl his slow “spinners,” and dismissing Mr. Barrow in favour of Mr. Beeseley. This offended Mr. Barrow, who retired in dudgeon to the remotest part of the field and appeared to go to sleep.

15. Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb
He looked battered by my onslaught of questions. ‘Can you be quiet, Fitz?’ he asked me earnestly, and after a moment’s notice, I shook my head.
‘I don’t think so.’ I shifted restively as I spoke. I was suddenly miserable. I could not find a comfortable position in which to be still. I was aware that I was sleepy but could not recall how to let go of wakefulness. I suddenly wanted all of it to go away and leave me in peace. I dropped my head into my hands and covered my eyes. ‘All my life, I’ve done everything wrong.’
‘It’s going to be a long night,’ the Fool observed woefully.

16. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
“Ow!” she exclaimed. “I ache all over!” The voice that exclaimed was a weak, cracked piping. She put her knobby hands to her face and felt wrinkles. At that, she discovered that she had been in a state of shock all of yesterday. She was very angry indeed with the Witch of the Waste for doing this to her, hugely, enormously angry. “Sailing into shops and turning people old!” she exclaimed. “Oh, what I won’t do to her!”

17. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Newt had never actually seen another one on the road, despite his best efforts. For years, and without much conviction, he’d enthused to his friends about its economy and efficiency in the desperate hope that one of them might buy one, because misery loves company.
In vain did he point out its 823cc engine, it’s three-speed-gearbox, its incredible safety devices like the balloons which inflated on dangerous occasions such as when you were doing 45 mph on a straight dry road but were about to crash because a huge safety balloon had just obscured the view. He’d also wax slightly lyrical about the Korean-made radio, which picked up Radio Pyongyang incredibly well, and the simulated electronic voice which warned about not wearing a seatbelt even when you were; it had been programmed by someone who not only didn’t understand English, but didn’t understand Japanese either. It was state of the art, he said.
The art in this case was probably pottery.

18. Mélusine by Sarah Monette
Light.
I sit up.
The darkness has been full of pain and screaming; I am still shaking, and I cannot hide it. Monsters booming at each other. I hope they are not angry at me, but I know they are. They always are.
They open the cell door. I scramble backwards on the cot, pressing myself against the wall. If I could become part of the wall, I would be safe. One monster comes nearer. I am shaking. I put my hands over my ears, but I cannot block out the assault of noise.
It stands in front of me. I think there are fragments of words in its roaring, but they make no sense: “here … feel … use … in.” I dare to glance up, but the monster looks back at me with the gleaming eyes of a hawk.

19. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
I knew Sebastian by sight before I met him. That was unavoidable for, from his first week, he was the most conspicuous man of his year by reason of his beauty, which was arresting, and his eccentricities of behaviour, which seemed to know no bounds. My first sight of him was in the door of Germer’s, and, on that occasion, I was struck less by his looks than by the fact that he was carrying a large teddy-bear.

20. Maurice by EM Forster
He chose a college patronized by his chief school friend Chapman and by other old Sunningtonians, and during his first year managed to experience little in university life that was unfamiliar. He belonged to an Old Boys’ Club, and they played games together, tea’d and lunched together, kept up their provincialisms and slang, sat elbow to elbow in hall and walked arm in arm about the streets. Now and then they got drunk and boasted mysteriously of women, but their outlook remained that of the upper fifth, and some of them kept it through life.

21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Snow was swirling against the icy windows once more; Christmas was approaching fast. Hagrid had already single-handedly delivered the usual twelve Christmas trees for the Great Hall; garlands of holly and tinsel had been twisted around the banisters of the stairs; everlasting candles glowed from the insides of helmets of suits of armour and great bunches of mistletoe had been hung at intervals along the corridors. Large groups of girls tended to converge underneath the mistletoe bunches every time Harry went past, which caused blockages in the corridors; fortunately, however, Harry’s frequent night-time wanderings had given him an unusually good knowledge of the castle’s passageways, so that he was able, without too much difficulty, to navigate mistletoe-free routes between classes.
Ron, who might once have found the necessity of these detours a cause for jealousy rather than hilarity, simply roared with laughter about it all.

Bonus question #1 (which of these I’ve read the most times in the shortest period of time): 21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Bonus question #2 (which of these is not a favourite): 10. Standish by Erastes


27th April, 2008
An apology and a meme
— Love @ 07:48 Comments (0)
Filed under: Contests, Memes

I’m sorry I haven’t tallied the scores for the quotation contest yet (I expect to do it later today). First my internet was down (I hate when that happens), then I sort of got so caught up in watching old episodes of Scrubs that I forgot everything else.

As there were only two entrants, counting up the points isn’t going to be terribly hard. Basically, if you entered, you’re going to win a gift card, but it still remains to be seen which one goes to who.

Obviously, I will also post all the quotes again, but this time with title and author so you can see who wrote what and so on. I have a nagging suspicion it was a little too hard. Damn me for liking so many books relatively few other people have read and enjoyed (though there were some proper classics in there as well, actually).

And now, a book meme!

Bold the ones you’ve read, underline the ones you read for school and put in italics the ones you started but haven’t finished

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Ulysses
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife (got about three pages in and decided I couldn’t stand the writing style. My friend whose taste in books is often the exact opposite of mine loved it, so I should’ve known)
The Iliad
Emma
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Middlesex (I got it from the library along with a bunch of other stuff and didn’t have time to finish it before I had to return it. One day, though. One day)
Quicksilver
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel (it wasn’t terribly good, though)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
Middlemarch
Frankenstein
The Count of Monte Cristo (I’ve started on this so many times, but I’ve never read the whole thing through. I need to do so soon!)
Dracula
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
1984
Angels & Demons (never!)
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Dune
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon
Neverwhere
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dubliners
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Beloved
Slaughterhouse-five
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Lolita
Persuasion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Because I love numbers: there are one hundred and six books on the list. I have read twenty-seven and started, but not finished, seventeen of them.


14th April, 2008
Contest deadline extended
— Love @ 21:09 Comments (1)
Filed under: General booktalk

The deadline for the quotation contest was supposed to be tonight, but I’m moving it to same time next week instead. Partly because I have a crazy workweek coming up and won’t really be online much, but also because there’s only one entry so far.

Come on, people, you can make a guess, surely?


7th April, 2008
Look, it’s a contest!
— Love @ 21:57 Comments (4)
Filed under: Contests

Eva at A Striped Armchair had a contest up for Buy a Friend a Book week. I didn’t participate, but it did inspire me enough that I am going to proceed to steal the idea from her (I’m sure she doesn’t mind).

I’m still stuck in a rut when it comes to my reading, so I figured this might keep you distracted for a bit, and while I was looking through my books looking for passages to pick I did feel stirrings of the “must read this now”-kind, so hey, maybe I’ll get back to my reading while you are all busy guessing. I hope so!

The rules are pretty simple. Basically, I’ve taken passages from twenty-one books and your job is to guess the author and title of said twenty-one books. The best and second best participants will get prizes (in case of a tie I will do a random draw from the tied entrants).

First prize: a $30 or £15 gift certificate from Amazon.com or .co.uk (your choice)
Second prize: a $15 or £7.50 gift certificate from Amazon.com or co.uk (your choice)

The maximum number of points anyone can get is 47, which can be earned as follows:

  • one (1) point each for correct title and author (for a maximum of 42 points).
  • three (3) bonus points for linking to this entry in your own blog.
  • one (1) bonus point each for correctly identifying1:
    • the book I’ve read the most times in the least amount of time.
    • the one book out of these twenty-one that I do not count as a favourite.

1. Correctly identifying here means the correct number of the book you think it is. You don’t have to give the title/author of it to gain these bonus points.

I don’t think it needs to be said, but obviously googling the answers is Not Cool. Not that I have any way of checking if you do, but still. Let’s play fair, shall we?

To give everyone a fair shot at this, no matter how late or early you come into the game, I have turned on comment moderation, which means that no comment will be visible unless approved by me, and I shan’t do any approving ’til after the contest has been closed.

Today is Monday. The deadline for entries is Tuesday 22nd April 00:00 GMT (Monday 21st April 7 pm EST). (Yup, it was extended.)

Have fun guessing!

  1. ‘I have to speak to you’, he says.
    I look at him, waiting. He is wearing the school uniform of grey flannels and a grey V-necked sweater. But, instead of the striped school tie, he wears the cricket XI cravat, tucked into an open-necked shirt. His black hair is longer than I am allowed to have mine. He wears it with a side parting and it falls forward over one eye like a crow’s wing. As he looks at me he runs a hand nervously through this lock of hair, pushing it back away from his brow. He has dark blue eyes, and very black eyebrows, and his clear, unlined face has a dark shadow of stubble on the top lip and round the beard line.
    He is still holding on to my arm and his nails are digging into the flesh just below the elbow.
    ‘You’re hurting,’ I say.
    He lets go at once. He is extremely agitated. He pushes the hair back with his hand again and walks over to the window so that he has his back to me.
  2. ‘I have not the smallest objection to explaining them,’ said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. ‘You either chuse this method of passing the evening because you are in each other’s confidence and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; — if the first, I should be completely in your way; — and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire.’
  3. So I told my Gran. I told her about the row I’d had with my Mam. And I told her about Malcolm. I said, ‘I’ve made up this boy, Gran. And it was all right at first but it’s all sort of gone wrong now because my Mam won’t talk about anything else; it’s Malcolm this and Malcolm that and Malcolm morning noon and night. And my Mam loves Malcolm now and it’s made me dead jealous and I know that’s stupid because Malcolm’s just an invention. He’s just a figment of my imagination. He’s sort of … apart from the American accent, he’s sort of … the boy that I used to be, before the canal. And before everything happened to the little girl.’
  4. Panic gripped Rupert. Even Proom, immuned as he was to the devastating effect of Anna’s curtsies, stepped back a pace. For here was homage made flesh; here, between the bust of an obese Roman emperor and a small, potted palm, Rupert, Seventh Earl of Westerholme, was being offered commitment, servitude, another human being’s all.
  5. On the deck he forced himself to lounge nonchalantly against the rail, putting his shaking hands into his pockets. His excitement made him weak, nor was it lessened as he waited. Every minute before the fire cold be discovered was important. A French officer said something to him with a triumphant laugh and pointed aft over the taffrail, presumably speaking about leaving the Indefatigable behind. Hornblower smiled bleakly at him; that was the first gesture that occurred to him, and then he thought that a smile was out of place, and he tried to assume a sullen scowl.
  6. ‘I need you Steve. You have to help me find a library.’
    Steve dropped some dollar bills onto the beer-sodden table and hurried after me.
    ‘Jesus man, what has gotten into you?’
    ‘Where’s the nearest?’
    ‘Library? God’s sake, this is Princeton.’
    ‘Any good one will do. Please!’
  7. Doyler had been right: the rain came in the evening, and it was still pouring when Jim pushed with the shop bike up Ballygihen hill. The shiny asphalt, the mop of trees, the chimney teeth with a chip off the middle, the squeaks of the wheels which seemed to complain of piles and the falling damps, the mudguard spitting wet: the world conspired with his thoughts and everywhere he looked was Doyler’s presence. Ahead lay Killiney Hill, it’s obelisk stark against the last cloudy light.
  8. Our inquiries at Limmeridge were patiently pursued in all directions, and among all sorts and conditions of people. But nothing came of them. Three of the villagers did certainly assure us that they had seen the woman, but as they were quite unable to describe her, and quite incapable of agreeing about the exact direction in which she was proceeding when they last saw her, these three bright exceptions to the general rule of total ignorance afforded no more real assistance to us than the mass of their unhelpful and unobservant neighbours.
  9. We camped that night at Alresford, where Cromwell’s old comrade, Richard Norton, kept the manor. The talk was all of sieges. They said we might be over the walls of Basings-House the next day, and spirits were high. There was even the odd bawdy song, which one of the officers stopped to reprove. He was not a stern reprover. The young man pleading that he sang for the music only, he was given leave to hum the tune without the words.
    I had no heart to sing. My sole thought was how to soften and win round my friend. He kept away from me, his face averted, and looked so unhappy I would almost rather he had hit me. Going to where he sat cross-legged tearing at a bit of cheat, I seated myself opposite him and put my beef, the best part of the ration, into his lap.
  10. The days gradually settled into a routine. Every morning, Trent appeared with the little trap and took Ambrose to the house. Sebastien would meet him, either on the steps or in the hall, and together they would go to the schoolroom. For three hours they would study languages, literature, and mathematics, then stop to eat luncheon. In the afternoon they would explore the grounds, concentrating on botany, geology, and natural history.
    The other thing that swiftly became a routine was letters from Goshawk. After the first day at the house, Goshawk was absent. When questioned, Sebastien simply shrugged in his pretty Gallic way and said, ‘Papa is away.’
  11. Beyond the first smile of recognition—and even that was an hypocrisy, for she thought his arrival rather provoking—Miss Sedley did not once notice Dobbin during his visit. But he was content, so that he saw her happy; and thankful to have been the means of making her so.
  12. Clare continued to observe her. She soon finished her eating, and having a consciousness that Clare was regarding her, began to trace imaginary patterns on the tablecloth with her forefinger with the constraint of a domestic animal that perceives itself to be watched.
    ‘What a fresh and virginal daughter of Nature that milkmaid is!’ he said to himself.
  13. Now, for the first time in his twelve years of life, Jonas felt separate, different. He remembered what the Chief Elder had said: that his training would be alone and apart.
    But his training had not yet begun and already, upon leaving the Auditorium, he felt the apartness.
  14. The day begun badly with Mr. Tallboy’s having lost his lucky half-crown and with Mr. Copley’s observing, offensively, that perhaps Mr. Tallboy would prefer to toss with a pound-note. This flustered Mr. Tallboy. Brotherhood’s won the toss and elected to go in first. Mr. Tallboy, still flustered, arranged his field, forgetting in his agitation Mr. Hankin’s preference for mid-on and placing him at cover-point. By the time this error was remedied, it was discovered that Mr. Haagedorn had omitted to bring his wicket-keeper’s gloves, and a pair had to be borrowed from the pavilion. Mr. Tallboy then realized that he had put on his two fast bowlers together. He remedied this by recalling Mr. Wedderburn from the deep field to bowl his slow “spinners,” and dismissing Mr. Barrow in favour of Mr. Beeseley. This offended Mr. Barrow, who retired in dudgeon to the remotest part of the field and appeared to go to sleep.
  15. He looked battered by my onslaught of questions. ‘Can you be quiet, Fitz?’ he asked me earnestly, and after a moment’s notice, I shook my head.
    ‘I don’t think so.’ I shifted restively as I spoke. I was suddenly miserable. I could not find a comfortable position in which to be still. I was aware that I was sleepy but could not recall how to let go of wakefulness. I suddenly wanted all of it to go away and leave me in peace. I dropped my head into my hands and covered my eyes. ‘All my life, I’ve done everything wrong.’
    ‘It’s going to be a long night,’ the Fool observed woefully.
  16. “Ow!” she exclaimed. “I ache all over!” The voice that exclaimed was a weak, cracked piping. She put her knobby hands to her face and felt wrinkles. At that, she discovered that she had been in a state of shock all of yesterday. She was very angry indeed with the Witch of the Waste for doing this to her, hugely, enormously angry. “Sailing into shops and turning people old!” she exclaimed. “Oh, what I won’t do to her!”
  17. Newt had never actually seen another one on the road, despite his best efforts. For years, and without much conviction, he’d enthused to his friends about its economy and efficiency in the desperate hope that one of them might buy one, because misery loves company.
    In vain did he point out its 823cc engine, it’s three-speed-gearbox, its incredible safety devices like the balloons which inflated on dangerous occasions such as when you were doing 45 mph on a straight dry road but were about to crash because a huge safety balloon had just obscured the view. He’d also wax slightly lyrical about the Korean-made radio, which picked up Radio Pyongyang incredibly well, and the simulated electronic voice which warned about not wearing a seatbelt even when you were; it had been programmed by someone who not only didn’t understand English, but didn’t understand Japanese either. It was state of the art, he said.
    The art in this case was probably pottery.
  18. Light.
    I sit up.
    The darkness has been full of pain and screaming; I am still shaking, and I cannot hide it. Monsters booming at each other. I hope they are not angry at me, but I know they are. They always are.
    They open the cell door. I scramble backwards on the cot, pressing myself against the wall. If I could become part of the wall, I would be safe. One monster comes nearer. I am shaking. I put my hands over my ears, but I cannot block out the assault of noise.
    It stands in front of me. I think there are fragments of words in its roaring, but they make no sense: “here … feel … use … in.” I dare to glance up, but the monster looks back at me with the gleaming eyes of a hawk.
  19. I knew Sebastian by sight before I met him. That was unavoidable for, from his first week, he was the most conspicuous man of his year by reason of his beauty, which was arresting, and his eccentricities of behaviour, which seemed to know no bounds. My first sight of him was in the door of Germer’s, and, on that occasion, I was struck less by his looks than by the fact that he was carrying a large teddy-bear.
  20. He chose a college patronized by his chief school friend Chapman and by other old Sunningtonians, and during his first year managed to experience little in university life that was unfamiliar. He belonged to an Old Boys’ Club, and they played games together, tea’d and lunched together, kept up their provincialisms and slang, sat elbow to elbow in hall and walked arm in arm about the streets. Now and then they got drunk and boasted mysteriously of women, but their outlook remained that of the upper fifth, and some of them kept it through life.
  21. Snow was swirling against the icy windows once more; Christmas was approaching fast. Hagrid had already single-handedly delivered the usual twelve Christmas trees for the Great Hall; garlands of holly and tinsel had been twisted around the banisters of the stairs; everlasting candles glowed from the insides of helmets of suits of armour and great bunches of mistletoe had been hung at intervals along the corridors. Large groups of girls tended to converge underneath the mistletoe bunches every time Harry went past, which caused blockages in the corridors; fortunately, however, Harry’s frequent night-time wanderings had given him an unusually good knowledge of the castle’s passageways, so that he was able, without too much difficulty, to navigate mistletoe-free routes between classes.
    Ron, who might once have found the necessity of these detours a cause for jealousy rather than hilarity, simply roared with laughter about it all.

2nd April, 2008
March stats
— Love @ 13:19 Comments (0)
Filed under: Stats

My reading slump really made a difference in the amount of books I read during March. It started somewhere around the middle of the month and only two of the total fourteen I read, I read after the 15th.

March books:

  1. När kommer du tillbaka?; Marika Kolterjahn, C
  2. Tenderness; Robert Cormier (not reviewed)
  3. Dragon’s Bait; Vivian Vande Velde, C
  4. True Stories of Pirates; Lucy Lethbridge (not reviewed)
  5. True Stories of the First World War; Paul Dowswell (not reviewed)
  6. True Stories of the Second World War; Paul Dowswell, C
  7. Lost in Austen; Emma Campbell Webster, C
  8. Nu heter jag Nirak; Peter Pohl, C
  9. What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew; Daniel Pool, B
  10. Unnatural Death; Dorothy L Sayers, A
  11. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club;Dorothy L Sayers, B
  12. Hey Nostradamus!; Douglas Coupland, B
  13. Linas kvällsbok 2; Emma Hamberg, C
  14. Making History; Stephen Fry, A

Challenge stats:

*I’ve read eight books for this challenge, but the eighth book is not chronologically near the other seven, hence the 7/8.