Mary's musings

Mary Hoffman, author of over 90 children's books, including the Stravaganza series and Amazing Grace, has begun a web journal which will be updated roughly once a week. You can read more on

Friday, October 13, 2006

Putting on the style

I don't think I have written here yet that I'm having swimming lessons. Jessica comes too. I was a regular three times a week 20-minute breast-stroker for years in London and have been doing it here since June. But I've never been sure about the breathing, which hampered my style.

Now, after four lessons, I can do it properly. Speed has suffered a bit and all sorts of young women who keep their heads out of the water go powering past me. But I have the satisfaction of knowing that I am doing it correctly! Front crawl is another matter though. I did a length and a half of it in the pool this morning and, as well as doubtless looking absurd, I was knackered. Jess says I look like a lion roaring when I come up out of the water to breathe. "Does that mean I look like a madwoman?" I asked. The answer was, "I love you very much."

Italian Literature classes have also started again - ah, the true sign of autumn! - and we are reading difficult, long, nineteenth-century short stories. I had high hopes of Ippolito Nievo - handsome aristocrat, follower of Garibaldi, died young in a shipwreck - but the only thing he was romantic about in the story we read was his rosy-spectacled view of agricultural workers. Next week's is about a sleepwalker.

Jess is back at university and the house is redolent of resin (the chemical kind, not pine) as she constructs her models and makes casts.

Stealing from the Guardian G2:
This week Mary read Peter Pan in Scarlet, the sequel by Geraldine McCaughrean, and was dazzled, even though not a fan of the original. She saw on TV the third episode of Jane Eyre - ace; the last of the Nuremberg trial reconstructions, on Rudolf Hess - the least impressive of the three programmes and Wide Sargasso Sea - absolute pants, which is remarkable in view of the number of scenes shot in the nude. She heard Faure's quartet, written not long before his death: rather Brahmsian, sad, but not in a personal way, more about the general transience of life. But done with great style


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