Tiny Sparks of Joy

New to me books, as I continue to work on my Chalet School collection.

A short work week.

Small decluttering jobs and putting some of the many Bonne Maman jars I’m partial to keeping to good use.

An early night.

Planning for things big and small.

Advertisements
Tiny Sparks of Joy

The Day I Met Maeve Binchy

I was a voracious reader as a child. From the time I was able to read ‘proper’ books, I read everything I could get my hands on. We were near great libraries and I would borrow four on a Saturday, then return on Monday evening to borrow four more. If I found a book I liked, I would reread it over and over.

I have very mixed feelings about the MS Readathon, partly because I’ve become very cynical about the charity sector in general and partly because I have some hangups about it from my childhood. However, when I was about 11 or 12 years old, I was sent along to the launch of the contest as a representative of my class in school. I didn’t really know what to expect and it was always nice to be able to escape school for a bit.

The launch was held in a large hotel function room – for the life of me I cannot remember which one – and it was a hot, busy, noisy affair. There were press photographers and, most important for me, free books! Some of the authors of said books were there, and I got a copy of Wildflower Girl signed by Marita Conlon-McKenna, which is still on my bookshelf today.

Back then, I hadn’t a clue who Maeve Binchy was, but I overheard one of the teachers talking about her and I decided she must be important enough to get to sign a poster we were all given and which other authors had signed for me, so I plucked up the courage to go over to her. She was sitting down and I have no idea what I said to her but she signed the poster and had a little chat with me, and as I thanked her and turned away she commented on a red bow I had in my hair because I felt I should probably dress up a bit for a Big Day Out like this.

I’m sure I got rid of that poster in a decluttering session years ago because I certainly don’t have it now. I do, however, have a big collection of Maeve Binchy books on the same shelves as the well read signed copy of Wildflower Girl. The first Maeve Binchy book I ever read was Circle of Friends and my favourite bit of the novel is where a nearly 10 year old Benny is dreaming of getting dressed up for her Big Day, her birthday, only to have her dreams of velvet and frills dashed when a practical, boring ensemble appears.

I reread that section a lot, and I think of me getting dressed up for my own Big Day, and it reminds me that long after the humdrum days of school are over there’s some high points, even if they don’t seem significant at the time. I think of me, and Benny, and I relate to Benny’s feelings of not being pretty enough and worrying about what she might wear and I think back to that red bow and meeting Maeve and I wish I could tell her just how much pleasure that day gave me and that I’m sorry I didn’t keep the bow and the poster.

The Day I Met Maeve Binchy

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Finally feeling slightly normal after the plague on our house this week. Mountains of washing and new pillows were necessary.

Sunshine and getting outside, even for a short time.

Finding things I thought were lost and feeling happy about not having to rebuy them.

Unexpected good customer service and a prompt and thoughtful response to a slightly ranty complaint email.

Adding another book to my Chalet School collection. I’m giving myself a slight bit of leeway on my frugal mission when editions pop up that I’ve never read.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

The Book of the Lesser Spotted Mormon

I had time today to, as we call it in work, go out on the ground and whizz through some shops during my very short lunch break. I’ve become a very picky shopper lately so I went to about ten places in search of the two things I needed.

There were some Mormon missionaries on Grafton Street, dressed in their uniform of white shirts, black trousers, ties, modest skirts and tops for the ladies, and faint sense of naivety and optimism. I can’t imagine what it must be like to spend from 18 months to two years in a place you probably don’t know very well being constantly rejected by almost everyone you meet.

I’ve had a low level fascination with the Mormon faith for a few years. I really enjoyed The Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks and I read a fair number of blogs written by Mormon women. I have zero desire to read The Book of Mormon and having been a devout atheist for a number of years I am most definitely not in the market for a new religion founded by a man of questionable sexual practices who wrote his divine texts with the aid of a hat.

I wonder how many of them will end up leaving their religion, as I did. I wonder how many of them will question things and take the good bits that they like and tell themselves they have their own faith, as I know many people have done with other faiths. I wonder how many are true believers.

They have to do this meet and greet without even a cup of coffee to get them started for the day. Any religion that’s going to micromanage people’s beverage consumption must be a hard sell no matter what country you’re in.

The Book of the Lesser Spotted Mormon

Under the Weather

Today was not fun. There is a plague on our house and I spent the entire day washing bedlinen, cleaning and watching the weather so I could get some washing dry in between rain showers. Then there was thunder and lightening during dinner to round off the day. I’m still a bit sick and very tired. I really hope the sun comes out tomorrow, literally and metaphorically.

Under the Weather

Over Load

I’ve noticed this week that since this time last year I’ve been in a haze of news cycles, updates, media updates, scandals, crises, more scandals, more updates……

Human beings can’t have been designed with this in mind. My mind wasn’t, and it’s not good for me to be in this whirling mess of news all day every day.

Even the word ‘news’ is something I’ve been thinking about. I work with words in my job every single day, and while one of the perks is that you come across odd and unusual words you’d never hear otherwise (like captious) one of the downsides is that sometimes words start to lose their meaning a little. There is an appearance of newness about every day, but its starting to feel like Groundhog Day.

I’ve been obsessed with the news, but the past 12 months have been a new level of obsession. I need to dial it back a bit. There’s only so much new one person is designed to deal with.

Over Load

Miss Pettigrew

Some years ago, I went to see Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, starring Amy Adams. I hadn’t read the book, or even heard of it before the film was released. The film was very enjoyable, light and funny and nice to look at. I read the book long after seeing it, and there’s some differences, as is the case with any adaptation. One scene which isn’t in the book involves Miss Pettigrew and her romantic interest comment on signs of the impending Second World War when seeing planes overhead. It frames the story as something of a last hurrah before terror and suffering would come to everyone’s door.

The book is one I return to when I need to escape. And this is something I’ve felt the need to do more and more, given the state of various nations these days. The story isn’t all roses – Miss Pettigrew thinks fearfully of having to resort to the workhouse and there’s references to her slimness being due to short rations rather than pursuit of fashion – but it has enough lightness and airiness to keep my mind on happier things than The Real World.

Winnifred Watson, who wrote the book, knew a thing or two about The Real World, given that the Depression of the 1930s stymied her plans to attend university. She also must have known about the need to escape through reading, be it from the boring job that allowed her to write or the dreams of further education dashed because of world events. I think of her, weathering the Second World War, her son escaping a bomb and surviving, and going on with life. And I thank her for giving me a book that allows me to escape from things during these days.

Miss Pettigrew