Sunday, June 16, 2019

I have been watching political television today – both the Andrew Mar show in the morning, which I record on Sundays such as this one when I go to Mass; and the debate this evening, at least some of it. How fortunate we are (as someone said here recently) that the Prime Minister is not Head of State. I think there are many who disapprove of the Royals without quite appreciating that point.

I got another batch of kimchi made. The great thing about kimchi, I decided, is that one feels, while chopping and blending and brining and making rice-flour porridge – one feels, on the basis of sixty years in the kitchen, that the next step is going to be cooking. And it isn’t. One just crams the stuff into jars and leaves God to do the cooking (=fermenting).

(The one on the right is last week's batch. As you can perhaps see, the new jars aren't quite as full, and probably won't hiss in that exciting way.)

Political television is good for knitting, because you don’t really have to look at it very much. I did another six rows of Spring Shawl, and that’s quite a lot at the present stitch count. I have reached the fourth rank of lace diamonds – there are to be seven in all. That’s not as good as it sounds, because of the ever-widening triangle, but it’s better than nothing. And I think the first ball of yarn is beginning to look a bit poorly.


The Forsyth Saga is not a bad idea, Mary Lou. I’ve never read it.

Shandy, I can’t believe that the Pickwick Papers (never read them) and Hard Times (not sure) could be as bad as Silas Marner, which is what we had to read at Asbury Park High School in New Jersey. I’ve probably said this before: once I grew up and read Middlemarch (and Adam Bede) and recognised Eliot as probably the greatest of 19th century English novelists, I tried Silas Marner again, for bedtime reading. And found it every bit as boring as I remembered.

Meanwhile I’m getting on fine with North and South, and remain convinced that I’ve never been here before. What an exciting moment it must have been, the Industrial Revolution, the harnessing of science to do the work men had been doing since the dawn of civilisation.


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  2. I remember Silas Marner being held up as the epitome of trite and didactic writing.

  3. Anonymous11:53 AM

    I think I remember skirting Silas Marner on our sophomore optional reading list, and choosing another book instead. Just the title gave me a sense of dread. Chloe

  4. Why did they give us Silas Marner? I never finished it, rare for me, even in those days. "The first ball of yarn is beginning to look poorly." I laughed out loud. What about the Pallisers? Have you read those, Jean?

  5. Re kimchi: Korean radish ('mu') is quite refreshing for summer; it's more like daikon and less peppery than western radishes. The fermented shrimp paste is something you could do without. My family does not eat shellfish, so any homemade kimchi I've eaten has been without it.
    Re 19th c. British novelists: I love Dickens with a few exceptions and hate Eliot, also with an exception. I would add my vote for Forsyte Saga, though that's more modern.

  6. I'd like to put in a plea for "Silas Marner." It is short by nineteenth century standards and is not to be read as a novel. It is a tale. Many things within it fit into the genre of fairytales: the miser with his pot of gold, the drawing of lots to decide guilt, the wicked brother stealing the gold and immediately meeting his fate, the child arriving as though by magic.... And yet it has realistic elements - sex and drugs if not much rock and roll. Of course, I have taught it rather than being taught it and that has made all the difference...

  7. I read Silas Mariner for fun as a teenager and loved it. I didn't find it boring, although even then I recognized the coincidences were a bit far fetched. Perhaps I am just too easily taken in by melodrama?