Nine Days of Christmas Books

I got this idea from and it goes like this:

Day 1 – Ghost of Christmas Past. Name one book that you loved as a child. I’m going with my first trip to Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Day 2 – The Ghost of Christmas Present. One book that you’ve loved reading this year. For me it’s a toss-up between Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light and Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth.

Day 3 – The Ghost of Christmas yet to come, which for me will probably be the next thing Ian Rankin produces. We don’t know what that will be because he has a habit of writing a book a year and so probably hasn’t started it yet.

Day 4 – Bah humbug! Name a book everyone raves about which you can’t stand. Well, I’ve never really understood all the fuss about Catcher in the Rye. Sorry, but there it is.

Day 5 – Bob Cratchit, an old dependable, a book you always go back to. I’d have to go with Pride and Prejudice for this.

Day 6 – Tiny Tim, something overlooked. I’m going to say E F Benson’s Mapp and Lucia novels because despite the fame of Mapp and Lucia on TV he’s still underrated in literary circles.

Day 7 – A Muppet Christmas Carol, your favourite adaptation. For me this has to be the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. It cannot be bettered.

Day 8 – A Christmas Carol; what, apart from the aforenamed book, gets you in the mood for Christmas? I’m struggling here because it’s mostly music and lights that get me in the mood, so I’m leaving this one blank.

And finally, Day 9 – have a go yourself and then get others to join in. Spread the fun.

Kirk out

There’s a Block in my Blog

As beetleypete has so consistently pointed out, the blocks on WordPress are a bloody nightmare. It’s an answer to a problem nobody had, an idea which solves nothing but creates loads of barriers, particularly when it comes to editing. Every time you press return it creates a new block, a sort of uber-paragraph, which has to be formatted separately from everything else – and when it comes to poetry, as you can imagine, this is practically impossible. The poem ‘Spike’ below is not one document but consists of dozens of individual blocks, each of which has to be edited separately. There is no way, for example, to select the whole document and make it bold – which I do for those of my readers who struggle with the inexplicably faint font – nor, I’ve just discovered, can I select the whole poem for deletion. I was going to do this but now I shan’t bother – deleting ninety-one lines individually one by one is not my idea of fun.

I did Spike yesterday at a Quaker songs and poetry gathering, and it went over well. Singing carols on Zoom is a tricky business; you’d think everyone could just unmute themselves and sing along but apparently the echoes and feedback turn it into an infernal shrieking. Not what you want. So we all had to sing separately along to the music and clap silently. Incidentally, did you know that Quakers don’t generally applaud? I can’t remember why, I’ll have to look it up. We also don’t say ‘yes’ when asked if we agree with a minute in a meeting, but ‘Hope so’ – the idea being that… hang on, I’ll have to look that up as well. Quakers can come across as being quite obsessive, but there are a couple of fundamental practices that I’m totally on board with. The first is not swearing oaths or making promises. The idea behind this is that your word should be your bond, whereas if you make a promise you are setting up a double standard of truth and saying ‘I’m telling the truth now but I might not be on other occasions.’ I never thought about this before but it makes perfect sense. The other thing I agree with is not gambling because it’s unearned income. This is thought to be wrong – a prohibition which extends to charging interest or playing the stock exchange, not usually thought of as gambling, though that’s exactly what it is. Charging interest in particular leads to vast swathes of unearned income, as does locating your company somewhere you don’t have to pay tax. If you think about it, our whole system is based on charging interest and that’s a system which makes the rich richer and the poor, who have no choice but to pay higher interest on their debt – I know whereof I speak as my overdraft charges have nearly doubled – poorer.

So there we are. I’m going to leave it there as I’m trying not to think about the news, but I send a special thought to you if you’re going to be alone at Christmas, particularly if you had plans which you’ve had to cancel.

There’s an interesting analysis here of why Quakers don’t clap.

Kirk out