The red gleam…

On a pouring wet Sunday night in December last year a special meeting was held at the House of the Sacred Flame in Knocklatchers Row…Nigel Bathgate, looking disconsolately out of his window in Chester Terrace, noticed its sign for the first time. It was a small hanging sign made of red glass and shaped to represent a flame rising from a cup. Its facets caught the light as a gust of wind blew the sign back. Nigel saw the red gleam…

An atmospheric opening to Ngaio Marsh’s “Death in Ecstasy”. Such clever writing; as well as setting a strong sense of atmosphere, all the psychological clues are already there. Marsh is so good at mood, whether it’s a tense evening party, a shabby artists’ colony or wet, dark night.



I’m finally reading this book, which my father gave to me a couple of years ago, and I’m reading it with my iPhone in my hand so I can google this:


and this:


and this:


and this (which is actually in Venice, but which bears the same name as a less famous church which Farrell discusses.)


images: Aci Castello, Chiesa San Giovanni dei Lebbrosi, Santa Maria dei Miracoli (all from Wikipedia), “St Jerome in his study” by Antonello da Messina (via Wikimedia)

Things I won’t miss

Things I won’t miss

Bar mitzvahs


The sound of the vacuum cleaner


Email. I know I already said it, but I want to emphasize it.

Small print

Panels on Women in Film

Taking off makeup every night


Things I will miss


The view out the window

Next year in Istanbul

The Christmas tree

Taking a bath

Pride and Prejudice



I love a good list.

With apologies to Nora Ephron, as adapted from two lists printed in “The¬†Most of Nora Ephron”


What happened in 1585 – 95 that the French verb blandir (to soothe, caress, coax or flatter) around from the 1300s suddenly acquired an English noun, blandishments?

Possibly a rash of smooth-talkers down the local tavern or an outbreak of particularly wily politicians at court. Or maybe the English just started eating lots of this:


It does look quite nice for a sore throat.

No doubt the real answer involves Shakespeare having something to do with it.