It is now almost the end of May and this is less of a quarterly and more of a half-ly (if Shakespeare was allowed to make up words, I am too) but I’m not going to let that put me off sharing it with you!
I should first say that I wrote most of this before the atrocious act of terrorism at the Manchester Arena happened on Monday night. My thoughts and prayers are with all those people affected by one human’s incomprehensible disregard for life. I wish we lived in world where this did not happen but the kindnesses and spirit of the people in Manchester in the aftermath of the attack have shown me, and the rest of the world, that despite the fact there are terrorists on this earth they will never prevail.
The first four months of the year have been exhausting for a variety of reasons, not least because I managed to pick up a rather nasty virus at the start of the year that completely wiped me out for a week and then lingered, turning me into a less than function human for several months (I’m still struggling now, if I’m honest). And then my top right canine, which has been dead and filled with root canal for years, decided to snap when I bit a nut so I’ve had to have the whole thing out. I looked like half a hamster for a week and I’m still not quite used to the gap or convinced I want to have a titanium bolt screwed into my upper jaw bone in order to permanently replace it.
I’ve managed to keep writing though. Reams of journaling that has kept me sane plus a short story idea and a little more work on the Summerlands Arthurian saga (I do so love my Igraine). I’m writing a lot more longhand than I had been last year, which I’ve found very freeing – somehow hand written words don’t look so final and therefore I don’t mind if they’re not “right”. I’ve also written an article for Spark (the bi-monthly newsletter from Improbable Press, who published Murmuring of Bees, the anthology which includes my short story Tales from the River Bank) called “That’s Fighting Talk” which looks at how I learnt the language of the British Army. The article is also the current guest blog on Improbable Press’ website and you can read it here.
Reading-wise, I’m 58 for 104 of my target for the year, which is not bad going. Quite a few of them are re-reads (Terry Pratchett in the main but lately I’ve been working through CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series again) but I’m still counting them all because re-reading is, as far as I’m concerned, an art in itself. Terry never ceases to amaze me in respect of just how much he packs into his Discworld novels (both in terms of layered puns and mirroring of Roundworld functions that can teach you an awful lot without you realising) and providing I read slowly enough, I also see something new, or look at something in a new way. It’s also a comfort blanket in terms of pure escapism and brain rejuvenation.
I picked up the Shardlake books for an entirely different reason, a sudden longing for a) a character who was a little bit out of the ordinary and b) some immersion in Tudor England. Shardlake (a hunchback lawyer in the time of Henry VIII, if you’ve never encountered the books before) completely hits the spot and I’ve been taking the opportunity to try and analyse CJ Sansom’s incredibly readable style.
Work is, as usual, busy and likely to get more so as additional projects seem to be appearing around every corner; they’re getting to be worse than plot bunnies for multiplying, if only they were as fun! I’m still working away towards finishing my Treasury exams with the ACT – next one is October – and so I’m back to the studying most evenings and every weekend from next month.
Theatre-wise, there has been Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at the National, which I adored – both Dan Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire nailed the characters – and I ended up with an aching mouth and sides from laughing so much. I was scheduled to see Andrew Scott as Hamlet as well but I just couldn’t face a 4+hr version of a play that I’ve seen way too often in the past couple of years, so I returned my ticket and spent the day with friends instead (which was, frankly, 1000% better for my mood).
I caught Beauty and the Beast at the cinema and I unabashedly adored it. The costumes, the songs, Gaston’s glorious voice (Luke Evans, you just keep giving me more reasons to love you), Belle’s sweet smile, the Beast’s gentle savagery, the glorious staging … I would happily watch it again and again.
There are a few films coming up that I’m also anxious to watch – Guy Ritchie’s version of the Arthurian Legend is out now, Wonder Woman opens in June, Thor: Ragnarok appears at the end of October and I know there are a few others that I’ve seen trailers for that I’ve momentarily forgotten…
Kingsman: The Golden Circle – how the heck could I have forgotten Kingsman is supposed to land in September? It’s practically sacrilege to ignore Roxy in the foxiest of suits, Harry apparently back from the dead and Eggsy wearing the most appallingly orange jacket known to man.
However it is Mr Ritchie’s movie that is occupying my attention at the moment, given that it was released on 19 May. I have no doubt that King Arthur: Legend of the Sword will bear as much resemblance to the Le Morte D’Arthur as a fish does to a monkey. Given that Ritchie has Vortigern and Arthur living at the same time and Arthur starting life as a street-wise Londinium urchin I can imagine the rest of the legend isn’t going to survive any better! I’ve also now realised that I’m thinking that street urchin = street rat and envisaging this as a sort of gritty English Aladdin – Vortigern as Jaffar given that he’s also apparently a magician as well (and where is Merlin in all this) so I suspect I’ll be humming “one jump ahead of the bread line, one swing ahead of the sword” as I go into the cinema. I apologise in advance to anyone unfortunate enough to sit next to me.
It’s also given me a desire to watch the Starz version of the legends “Camelot” which didn’t make it past the first series, had the most uninspiring Arthur known to man (sorry Jamie Campbell Bower – you did make a good Grindelwald) but did have Eva Green as Morgana which made up for everything else in a heartbeat.
However, I know what you’re all waiting for, and it isn’t any more Arthurian ramblings from me. So without further ado, I present
THE DOINGS OF DOG
(faithfully transcribed by She-Who-Thinks-She-Is-Pack-Leader)
Since Christmas I have, on occasions, felt the weight of my age upon me, and I have realised that I am not the sprightly pup I once was. Not that this in any way hinders my work of keeping my boarders free from unwanted squirrels and other dogs who are not refined enough to be allowed into my hallowed space. Also foxes. I absolutely cannot abide the ginger whiskered sneaks. No standards at all.
And don’t look at me like that, I’m not “ginger” bashing. Some of my best friends are Red Setters. No, you just can’t trust the pointy red bastards as far as you can throw them.
Your transcriber, now she’s stopped hiccoughing with laughter, would like it to be known that Madam has always looked down on all other dogs, regardless of the colour of their coat, but absolutely adores several humans with ginger hair so I can’t fault her there!
In the past few weeks though, I have not been feeling my best. I tried alleviating the problem by adding more grass to my diet but that option was rudely curtailed by She-Who-Thinks-She-Is-Pack-Leader, firstly by only letting me out accompanied by another human and then by digging up my favourite grass clumps. I ask you, just what is a girl to do when her most beloved human starts to conspire against her? Fortunately whatever it was cleared up without the grass but I’ve put in a request for a new patch, just for me. After all, who knows what may happen in the future!
Your transcriber feels that it is imperative to point out that rather than foiling Madam’s attempts to cure herself, the removal of the grass clumps was necessary to her health. Unfortunately Madam’s favourite grass patches had been infiltrated with buttercup plants. Whilst buttercups are pretty, they are also DEFINITELY NOT EDIBLE and Madam had been liberally poisoning herself to taste. The garden is now denuded of the pesky plants and Madam has, indeed, recovered her old poise. That said, before we’d worked out what was going on her balance had been affected to the point she’d slipped over and crashed into a wall, splitting one of her toenails open to the quick. Poor little love. She is healing well and the limp is now gone.
Other than the blatant ridiculousness of the removal of grass, She-Who-Thinks-She-Is-Pack-Leader has performed most admirably in every other respect in the past few months and there are therefore some photos of me to be share with you, my beloved and adoring fans.
I cannot profess to having a favourite myself but I’m sure you will let She-Who-Thinks-She-Is-Pack-Leader know which one you love the most in the comments:
And that is all for now.
So take care my lovelies, keep your chins up, your eyes, ears and hearts open, and don’t take any rubbish from anyone.
Love Kiz and Dog xxx