Coffee for the mind

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Absolutely a fan of the idea behind Morning Short, a series of short stories that come to you when you join their mailing list.

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An encounter with Kate Chopin‘s writing the year before GCSEs bit me with the short story bug, and I’m still convinced they enforce the best kind of writing.

I also like these illustrations by Miles Hyman very much; they exactly capture how I feel when I’m reading.

Sunshine

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I came across this Virginia Woolf quote below, which reminded me of this favourite book, with its invitation to “those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine” to hire an Italian castle for the month of April. Yes please…

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If life has a base that it stands upon, it is a bowl that one fills and fills and fills – then my bowl without a doubt stands upon this memory. It is of lying half asleep, half awake, in bed in the nursery at St Ives. It is of hearing the waves breaking, one, two, one, two, and sending a splash of water over the beach; and then breaking, one, two, one, two, behind a yellow blind. It is of hearing the blind draw its little acorn across the floor as the wind blew the blind out. It is of lying and hearing this splash and seeing this light…

Raymond Chandler

I looked at the ornaments on the desk, everything standard and all copper. A copper lamp, pen set and pencil tray, a glass and copper ash tray with a copper elephant on the rim, a copper letter opener, a copper thermos bottle on a copper tray, copper corners on the blotter holder. There was a spray of almost copper-coloured sweet-peas in a copper vase. It seemed like a lot of copper.

Raymond Chandler lands a gag in his third book, The High Window. There’s an excellent analysis of it on the Backlisted podcast, where they note it’s the first novel by Chandler where the corruption is outside the central family in the plot.  

Horrible demands

Horrible income tax demands and letters from my bank about overdrafts. I am going to get into debt and have nothing to fall back on. I simply cannot work any harder than I do, and it means that I shall have to cut down all my expenses.

Harold Nicolson, January 1952. Rather reminiscent of Farv in The Pursuit of Love, who bought a new Rolls every time he feared bankruptcy.

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Wonderful illustration too by Christopher Brown, who also did the Fire, Fire illustrations for this.

Eat Sweat Play

So, so important, and reading this was a revelation that I don’t like exercise but do like sport:

For men, sport and exercise are all part of the same active continuum, but for women they are presented as two very distinct things. Exercise, with its approved end-goal of delivering you a better body, is revered for twenty-first-century women…

Sweating for sport [my emphasis] is not seen as beautiful. It’s raison d’etre strays too far from appearance…It’s…about grit and determination, not losing a few pounds or looking great but absolutely wiping the floor with your opponents. It’s about winning, showing aggression, being competitive, openly rejoicing and being proud in doing all of these things.

For more read the rest of Anna Kessel’s Eat Sweat Play. I completely agree with her analysis and I’m not sure I’d have got through previous hard times without the mental confidence from fencing. I also don’t think it’s any coincidence that my performance st work skyrocketed and I began thinking of myself differently once I took myself off the training sessions and onto the piste.

Uncle Fred

“Mr Davenport has been entertaining his uncle, the Duke of Dunstable, to luncheon, and over coffee His Grace broke most of the sitting-room furniture with a poker.”

To say that this information surprised Pongo would be correct. To say that he was astounded, however, was going too far. His Uncle Alaric’s eccentricities were a favourite theme of conversation with Horace Davenport, and in Pongo he always found a sympathetic confidant, for Pongo had an eccentric uncle himself. Though hearing Horace speak of his Uncle Alaric and thinking of his own Uncle Fred, he felt like Noah listening to someone making a fuss about a drizzle.

Uncle Fred in the Spring Time, part of an excellent Christmas book haul.

Upstream

“…those who are the world’s working artists are not trying to help the world go around, but forward. Which is something altogether from the ordinary…Its labor requires a different outlook – a different set of priorities…It is a third self, occasional in some of us, tyrant in others. This self is out of love with the ordinary; it is out of love with time. It has a hunger for eternity.

From poet Mary Oliver’s book of essays, Upstream. Photo via Penguin Random House’s page.

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St Augustine

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St Luke the Evangalist in the Gospel Book of St Augustine, which I’m reading about in this:

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Interesting that Luke is shown in the dress of a Roman senator.

Illustration via Wikipedia; book cover photo by me.