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

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dressing up

Well I DID make jam - eight jars of bramble jelly - and then in the afternoon we went for a two-hour walk on the Ridgeway, visiting Wayland's Smithy and Uffington Castle, which is a windswept Iron Age hill fort. It was a golden day and the view spectacular. It was my first use of my poles, given by Stevie. They are terrific - like having 2 extra legs! I wish I'd had them in the Samaria Gorge in 2005.

I did some more serious lunching - Jules Cashford, my mythological friend (which is different from an imaginary one) in London and Gill Vickery in Oxford. Jules had done the Samaria Gorge without poles or proper shoes too and took almost as long as we did!

My next London event was at Stratford Circus, where I read Princess Grace to 30 children, some of them dressed up as princes and princesses. Then back to Oxford for another birthday party - I find my family members embrace big birthdays very enthusiastically! - with food and more barn-dancing. After all that I was rather relieved that one of the friends I was going to London with to see the Millais exhibition had to cancel so it was put off.

So only one trip to London this week. It was rather tiring, signing large numbers of Grace books at Frances Lincoln and then helping a friend prepare food for 150 people for yet another party, in memory of a mutual friend who died earlier this year. But we had a very leisurely breakfast in Cafe Mozart next morning, with more autumn sunshine pouring through the window.

I've finished City of Secrets corrections and sent them to Bloomsbury. Now have to tackle the two big heaps of Troubadour research books.

I read "Il tramonto di Venere" (= "Love's sunset") by Giovanni Verga, the prime exponent of the 19th century Italian style known as "verismo." It dealt with the parabola of a love affair between a prima ballerina and her toyboy. Very miserable - the veristi do nothing for me. But Verga had described the nasty lover - Bibi - putting pomade on his moustaches and being "in ghingheri" which means something like "all gussied up" and is a phrase used almost exclusively of women.

I read The English Patient at last and really enjoyed it, apart from the two love stories, which is what you are supposed to like most. All that animal rending and tearing. What I liked was the structure.

I saw "joe's Palace" by Stephen Poliakoff on TV - brilliantly acted and produced but curiously incomplete as a story. I heard Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique on the radio. And most of a programme about the film of The Boyfriend. It came out in Febraury 1972 but i already knew this because Stevie and I went to see it on the 29th, after proposing to each other!


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