Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sorry for the gap. I’m fine, if feeble. We are totally enveloped in the Festival here, and this post will be more culture than knitting.

But it must be said that I have finished swatching, for the moment, and cast on KD’s “Miss Rachel’s Yoke”. The plan is to skip waist shaping and more or less do EZ’s EPS up to the yoke. At the moment the circumference seems enormous and interminable. I’m halfway through the number of rounds of ribbing KD prescribes. I think I may want more.

Archie and I went to see Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros” yesterday. It was brilliantly staged and acted, but perhaps a quarter of an hour too long. Archie agreed.

Edinburgh is absolutely stuffed with people. Ian Rankin says in the Sunday Times today that there’s plenty of room for everybody, but I’m inclined to disagree. A man got onto my bus as I was going home after the play, late middle-aged; longish, untidy, grey hair; dressed in denims. He had one of those rectangular badges hanging around his neck by a chain. The message on the badge, hand-written in pencil, was: "I'm not a tourist."

Our next venture will be to “Krapp’s Last Tape” on Tuesday. I think it’s shorter.

I’ve been enjoying thinking about Palermo, where Archie and I hope to go in January. I’ve been reading Alan Langdale’s “Palermo:Travels in the City of Happiness” which has produced a few good ideas. It says: “The Normans subjugated the island in the 1070’s…(I am haunted by a Monty Pythonesque scenario of an army made up entirely of soldiers named Norman.)” Once you’ve read that sentence, it will never be possible to think of the Normans in the same way again.

I decided it would be a good idea to re-read (from many decades ago) Steven Runciman’s “Sicilian Vespers”. In the course of ordering it – arriving today as a flesh-and-blood book – I discovered Minoo Dinshaw’s biography of Runciman, published last year and reviewed ecstatically on all sides, but I managed to miss it. A great shame, as my husband would have enjoyed it. I’m reading it in my Kindle app.

I met Runciman once, late in his life. Birmingham was a distinguished centre of Byzantine studies due to the efforts of a dear friend. I have been thinking, all through Dinshaw’s book, of that idea of Six Degrees of Separation. Runciman qualifies me for an acquaintance with Edith Wharton, only one further step away. As well as for most of the great and lesser names of the 20th century.

It is Minoo Dinshaw’s first book. It is a truly brilliant display of scholarship and of empathy. I can find nothing about him on Google except that he lives in London. I’ve seen a clip on YouTube – English is clearly his first language. “Minoo & Dinshaw” are booksellers in Lucknow. I’ve sent a friend request on Facebook both to him and to an obvious pseudonym – but he doesn’t have many friends, in either guise, and I don’t expect a response. 


  1. I wondered how the crowds would be at Festival time. I last went to Edinburgh in August in the 80s and it was fairly heaving then. But so exhilarating to be able to see three or four shows in one day.
    You are certainly making Palermo sound enticing - but January? Will it be mild there even then?

  2. Once again, Jean, you have enticed me off on a winding path starting with Rosemary Hill's review of the biography, to a piece she did on what writers wear, to discovering that Runciman's last home, Elshieshields, can be rented out for gatherings. A knitting retreat? Thank you for the distraction from today's sickening news.

    1. I agree, Mary Lou, Jean is a welcome distraction to the news here in the States. I love her posts!

  3. You're right. I will never think of the Normans again in the same way.

  4. Literary paths are enticing.

  5. PS HBTY! Check you FB page😍🎉🎊🎂

  6. Oh, the pollywog is adorable! That smile!

  7. Still chuckling over all the Normans; logistics would have been a complete nightmare!

  8. Syd T.3:43 PM

    Oh you are precious! I snorted my morning coffee reading about the Normans!

  9. Just got it and started - thanks for the review!