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

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas begins at home

We set off to go to the Bourton-on-the-Water turning on of the Christmas lights on December 1st. We go every year and all the shops are open late, with staff in Victorian costume, handing out thimblefuls of mulled wine and bites of mince pie. It's an invalyuable source of stocking fillers and we always enjoy seeing the baby reindeer.

Anyway, this year it was raining and we just couldn't get into either of the carparks, so sadly turned round and came home. But we'd rung Jess to say it was a washout and when we got back to our house, were greeted by a hall full of tea-lights and incense, a Christmas garland and, in the kitchen, a plate of mince pies and glasses of sherry and port already poured. It was such a sweet thing for her to have done - she'd dashed to the supermarket and got the pies and garland and rummaged through the CDs to find Christmassy music.

So our evening was rescued, even if we couldn't buy any stocking fillers and the cats had to be substitute reindeer.

The next day we went to London to see the At Home in Renaissance Italy with Bex. It was the second time for me but the first for her and Stevie. It stood up well to a second viewing, as did the new V and A restaurant in the William Morris room. When we came out it was dark and people were skiting on the ice-rink outside the natural History Museum. It was like a Breughel.

This week I saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off and School of Rock, both on Film Four. These had been gaps in my education for a long time. I liked FB somewhat better - it's amazing how fresh-faced Matthew Broderick still looks 20 years later, playing Bloom in the film version of The Producers. Such a shame he married Sarah-Jessica Parker. Tony Bradman told me School of Rock was the best film he had ever seen and it wasn't quite that for me. I didn't find Jack Black quite likeable enough - he's like that big, embarrassing friend you had when you were a teenager, who always took things a bit too far.

I read and am still reading Sibilla Aleramo's Una Donna, which is our set book for Italian. It was first published in 1906 and is heavily autobiographical. Since she had a supremely miserable life, in spite of being very beautiful and intelligent, it should be heavy-going, but it is a very easy read. I listened to the two CDs I bought at the At Home in Renaissance Italy exhibition - perfect for background music while writing Christmas cards.


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