Thursday, January 24, 2013

Today is Helen’s birthday. You know you’re getting on a bit, when your youngest child turns 50. She managed to avoid coinciding with Burns by a fairly narrow margin, half an hour or so.

I filed the tax and, as feared, there was a (relatively small) amount to pay. Enough, however, to diminish the annual feeling of relief and exhilaration. Apparently they can’t just incorporate it into next year’s tax code unless you file before the end of December. So I’ve learned something.

AnnP, yes, we have tax software. I have messed about with it in my day. But that’s not really the problem. Filing is all quite simple, in fact. I just make a great fuss about having to spread all the papers out, and check that I have added up the interest from various savings accounts, and the dividends from this and that, and that I have the pieces of paper to back up each of the figures I am going to enter, if anybody should ask.

I get the impression that the American tax system is vastly more complicated than ours. My sister and her husband employ an accountant and say that he earns his fees in what he saves them. We used to have one (and it was just as much trouble, to get all the papers in order for him). I have saved us hundreds and hundreds of pounds by doing it myself in recent years, even if I may have missed a deduction here or there.

Thank you for the pointer to Gladys Mitchell’s novels, Mary Lou. I think maybe I should have a look. I am currently reading “The Light Years”, the first of the Cazalet novels by Elizabeth Jane Howard, as recommended by Shandy in her blog. I’m enjoying it, and it costs mere pennies for the Kindle edition. No knitting, so far.

I don’t like the movie of Mrs Miniver, however (this for Mary Lou). Its propaganda purpose, I felt -- no doubt a useful one -- was to create an imaginary Americanized England to reassure America which had just been drawn into the war.  Now that I’ve written the sentence, it doesn’t seem strong enough ground for disliking. It might be interesting for me to look at the book – especially since it includes knitting.

I have recently read “The Thirty Nine Steps”. It is very good, but startlingly different from the movie we all know. Maybe the same is true of Mrs Miniver.

We much enjoy British-made wartime films. We watched Noel Coward’s “In Which We Serve” a couple of days ago. I often wonder what the Germans were doing – they were no slouches at film-making in the 30’s. Did they make films during the war about plucky Germans suffering and dying from the activities of sinister Englishmen?

Thanks for the help on Franklin’s tessellations. SarahSeattle, your work is stunning. This link is to some crochet, a subject not usually admitted here. It’s very remarkable.

That leaves several topics untouched upon – do have a look at the link Heather provided yesterday, of the Shetland ponies having their photo session. And Shandy, I was reassured to learn from your comment that rolls of stair carpet are still out there somewhere.

My own knitting continues to progress. And I continue to measure and recalculate after every decrease. And all continues to seem well.


  1. The book of mrs miniver is a collection of columns from the Times, the last of which was written during the phoney war. The biography of Jan Struther tells all about how the Ministry of Information wanted her to go to the US and pretend to be Mrs. Miniver to help get the US into the war, then the movie was made. I love the British films of that era the best, as well. And I'm waiting for the Cazlalet book from the library, I didn't see it for kindle, I'll have to look again. Or perhaps it is only available in the UK.

  2. I agree about the book of Mrs Miniver, it is utterly different to the film, you'd hardly know they were the same! She writes in a light cheerful style, with wonderful observation and a great appreciation for the small things. Henrietta's War by Joyce Dennys is another in a similar line, light and amusing, always making the best of things, however bad but with moments of supreme poignance.

    I'm currently reading Elizabeth Jane Howard's autobiography Slipstream and enjoying it very much, she knew so many interesting people but more importantly she tells her story honestly and well. The Cazalets are on the list for future reading.

  3. Anonymous6:16 PM

    I recommend Barbara Pym (in any case one of my favorite writers) for sharp insights into knitterly behavior, especially in her early novel Some Tame Gazelle.
    -- stashdragon

  4. bbc made a recent version of THIRTY NINE STEPS that purportedly is based more faithfully on the book. i have it but havent read it ...

  5. There is a free digital copy of Mrs. Miniver available from the University of Pennsylvania:

    This whole conversation has so piqued my interest and my library here in California doesn't have a copy, so I was pleased to find it through the Wikipedia page.

  6. QuiltLady2:43 AM

    I'm curious where/how you found "The Light Years" for Kindle. I searced Amazon and didn't find it. Do you have any suggestions?? P.S. I love your blog!

  7. We also have an accountant. While we still have to gather all the information and accompanying papers, with one (or both of us, at times) classified as self-employed, there are just too many tax code regulations that change each year. I would happily pay double of what we are charged to keep this "convenience".

    Thank you Jean and others for recommending specific books - my list grows!

    I've always wondered, too, Jean, about what kinds of movies were made in Germany during the war. One of the Persephone books give a glipmse into life in Germany then -