Monday, December 28, 2020


Progress with Gudrun’s hap: three landmarks in a day!


1)    I reached the half-way point on the central square (knit corner-to-corner) and started down the other side.

2)    I finished the first ball of yarn and attached the second.

3)    I finished page 2 of the pattern and embarked on page 3.

So I’m feeling pretty smug.


Otherwise there’s little or nothing to report. C. came and got me around the garden. (I’ve missed only one day recently.) She says her daughter Christina, Hamish’s mother, who broke her neck recently falling from a horse, is now out of her neck brace. It’s good to know that the NHS can still manage some non-Covid treatments. This new, more infectious variation threatens to overwhelm us.


Doubling back to Christmas Eve: I couldn’t keep my fingers off the radio, at 3 in the afternoon. They played a recently-recorded version of the carol service. This year’s Boy was very good. If I’ve got it right, the first verse of “Once in royal David’s city…” is a solo, then the choir comes in for the second verse, and then the organ and all the mummies and daddies, for the third and subsequent. But there were no mummies and daddies. I knew that, but hadn’t expected the effect it would have on me. I wept, and turned the radio off.


Later in the day, I heard another programme about the Boys, with a bit about their mothers of whom I have often thought. Presumably with the first syllable or two, she knows, that’s Nigel! (Or, of course, that’s not Nigel!) What I hadn’t thought is that, through all those first four lines (and like all the rest of us, only how much more intensely) she then must worry about whether he will be able to hit and hold the high note – MARy was that mother mild…


We can only hope it all comes back next year.


We’ve been having a storm, with a fair bit of snow down south. Edinburgh has got off lightly. Is this, as I think I predicted, the American East Coast snow storm, 10 days later?

I think I'm all set for sourdough-baking tomorrow. The starter is very vigorous, and I'll feed it again tonight. The secret is a bit of rye flour in its diet -- it's like putting it on steroids.




Where were we? I’ve finished another complete re-reading of Il Gattopardo (usually I just dip into favourite passages). That woman who talked about it at my sister’s club in DC recently left out very nearly half, by sticking to Visconti’s beautiful film. I don’t blame Visconti at all, but she was meant to be talking about the book. 

So anxious am I to avoid Unpleasantness that I am now reading Roy Strong’s diaries – soporific, but not entirely without interest – and have loaded my Kindle with another Barbara Pym.


  1. A reading idea: many years ago I went through a Sackville-West/Nicolson phase and stumbled on Harold Nicholson's diaries. The volume that includes the 30s and 40s is particularly interesting.

  2. I am on a mystery binge just now and am enjoying rereading Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter series. I think this was triggered because I just get a copy of one of my parents’ 1947 wedding pictures framed. Dad was 5’7”, slight build, blond hair, and had a...somewhat prominent nose. Mom was only very slightly shorter and brunette. They both wore suits for the wedding. I have always thought this picture looked exactly how I imagine Peter and Harriet. I just retired from being an elementary school librarian a few months ago and am massively enjoying having the time to read “ grown up books”.

  3. Anonymous5:17 AM

    Thank you for making me discover Barbara Pym. I had never heard about her. I just finished "No Fond Return of Love". Do you have any recommendations for which of her books to read next?
    Hilde in Germany

  4. I've gone back to Georgette Heyer, to discover my PAN paperbacks (dating from 1976) have tiny print, hard to read on the aged brown paper, and the books are fragile with age. I've becy so used to increasing the font size on my Kindle at will!

  5. I've gone back to Georgette Heyer, to discover my PAN paperbacks (dating from 1976) have tiny print, hard to read on the aged brown paper, and the books are fragile with age. I've becy so used to increasing the font size on my Kindle at will!

    1. Become, not becy. Should learn to check before, not while pressing 'publish'. Ps your daily walks are inspiring me to drag myself out for a toddle round the block. Thank you!

  6. I have added a Barbara Pym to my kindle stack, I've started some new-ish novels and get past the first few chapters until I lose interest. I'm still saving Tana French, but I may give in. Happy to hear that Christina is doing well. I thought of you several times over Christmas when I heard recordings of various "Once in Royal Davids City" starting with the boy soprano. It's been an odd holiday time.

  7. When I finished all the Austens, Barbara Pym was the author people recommended. After that I suppose you're on your own? Or you are meant to do the recommending.

  8. =Tamar6:33 PM

    Not really in Heyer's league - who is - but my old Barbara Metzger paperbacks have filled a few hours with amusement.
    I'm relieved to hear that Christina is healing well.
    The hap takes two balls of yarn for the center? I wonder how much the rest takes.