Meeting a Fellow Blogger

Today I was in the library.  I got chatting to a young lady who I’d seen last week.  She was writing copious notes on an A4 writing pad.

Is that study notes for your university course starting next week?

No.  Notes for my blog, which I’ve recently started.

Wow, a fellow blogger!  Do bloggers do secret handshakes and codewords?  No.  We just swap stories and tips, many of which I had picked up from Blogging for Dummies and Blogging for Creatives, as well as from my lovely Schatz, who introduced me to blogging all those years ago.

Blogging is good.


Have a creative day, won’t you!


The Trial

I’m more of a factual books reader than a fiction reader.  I have read piles of … for Dummies books.  For a change I decided earlier this year to read Kafka’s The Trial.  That was back in February.  Six months later, I have allowed the book to jump up my backlog of Books to Read.

What can I say?

A real page-turner.  Despite the length of the novel and the small font size in this low-cost copy, I whizzed through it in less than a week, including a mammoth “just one more chapter” session on the past weekend.

My random observations as a non-literary person:

  • If you enjoyed Orwell’s 1984, you’ll love The Trial.
  • Interesting how a new character was introduced in almost every chapter:
    • The housemates
    • The policemen
    • The uncle
    • The court artist
    • The lawyer
    • The prison chaplain
  • The English translation of the title perhaps does not reflect the pun in the German title, Der Prozess, which translates as “The Trial” (as in Nuremberg, Crown Court, etc) and also “The Process” (as in, a series of steps).

Well worth a read, and in my opinion, still very relevant in this day and age.

Have an innocent day, won’t you!

Our Mother Tongue (4)

Russia has Pushkin.

Germany has Brecht.

France has… I haven’t a clue…

England has Shakespeare.  Shakespeare invented lots of words, eg assassin, bump, even the word “elbow” (cf: German: “Elbogen”).

Take a look at these beauties!

And for a bonus, take a look at these Shakespearean insults, thou curmudgeonly apple-worm!

Have an inventive day, won’t you!



Being Old-Fashioned

I’m quite old-fashioned, and proudly so.  I believe in:

  • Saying please and thank you
  • Holding doors open for people
  • Waiting with female friends at the bus stop until they’ve boarded their bus
  • Saying “shedule”, not “skedule”
  • Using a fountain pen

I use a fountain pen.  I use it when writing my diary (Anne Frank/Samuel Pepys/Adrian Mole-style), which I often write while sitting in the local old folks waiting room local cafe. I’ve often found it to be an effective ice-breaker.

“Are you left-handed?”

(Your hearing might be going, but by Jove, your eyesight is still good, Kumpel.

“Is that a fountain pen?  It’s really stylish-looking.  What make is it?  Where can I buy one?”

Actually, they don’t bombard the questions.  That’s just a summary of what they ask.

The piece de resistance is when they see me filling my fountain pen with ink.  Even traditionalists who write with a fountain pen tend to use cartridges.  Not me.  I use a converter.



Imagine the look of amazment on the face of a nine-year-old member of the Ipod generation, watching a left-hander writing a diary entry with a fountain pen and then seeing him drawing ink from a bottle into a converter.  She must have thought she was watching an episode of How We Used To Live.

Edit: Here is a sample of my handwriting, in in English and Russian/Cyrillic.  I messed one word up on the second line.


Have an old-fashioned day, won’t you!

Happy World Book Day!

So to deal with the issue of listlessness, here is my favourite books list on World Book Day 2016.

  • 1984, by George Orwell.  The only book I’ve read cover to cover four times.
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Solzhenitsyn.  I’ve read that book three times.
  • Gulag Archipelago, again by Solzhenitsyn.  It took me about three years to read it, mainly on the loo in my flat in Bracknell, but well worth reading.
  • Anything in the Dummies series of books.  (Well, almost anything.)
  • The Bumper Book of Government Waste, by Lee Rotherham.  Very entertaining and informative.
  • The Penguin Russian Course, by JJL Fennell.  It was *the* must-have book till the mid-90’s.
  • The Berlin Wall, by Frederick Taylor.  I bought that at Newcastle Airport while awaiting my flight to Düsseldorf.  Three hours later, I was still reading the book at the passport control queue on arrival in Germany.

Have a literary day, won’t you!

Owen Jones: The Establishment

Owen Jones is a 30-something Oxford graduate and Guardian journalist.  I quite enjoyed his book Chavs.  I didn’t agree with his argument, but the book was interesting reading.

His other book, The Establishment.  Ugggggggggggggggh.  Nauseating, self-righteous, rose-tinted rant aboutb socialism, totally unoriginal.  What?  The Establishment is full of rich people, who do naughty things and try to run the show?  Who’d have thought that?

Buy it – if you need to stop that table from wobbling.

Tomorrow I will donate the book to the English Library.

Have an established day, won’t you!