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

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

John Hurt and his father's wallabies

A bit like "Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis" this title comes from a recent dream. I don't know if Wendy Cope was on Melatonin but my treatment for insomnia, from a wonderful doctor who practises integrated medicine, has been giving me the craziest dreams.

In this one John Hurt was living in the flat that middle daughter and partner are buying, as their lodger because he was at odds with his father, a great landowner. But then Hurt Senior's wallabies turned on him and John inherited the whole caboodle and moved out.

It feels as if I have a head full of rubbish, which is being systematically emptied out and I'm getting far more of what the doctor calls "efficient sleep." We have yet to see what effect this has on the writing.

I've started back on my Italian Literature Class and a new course on High Renaissance Rivals. And it turned so cold I got out all my winter clothes and then immediately headed south to Cognac in France.

I'd been shortlisted for a prize - which I won! (See News page on the website for what it was).

I spoke French for 3 days including an acceptance speech and two radio interviews. Miss Yates would have been proud of me.

I read And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer, the commissioned sequel to Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and blogged about it as the Book Maven here:
Am also reading Umberto Eco's The Island of the Day Before. Also read two Pirandello short stories and a piece by Matilde Serao.

I heard Ravel's Quartet - twice! And I've been watching Emma on TV, in spite of being surprised by the casting. Also saw Juno for the first time and Stardust for the second. The star of Juno was very impressive but there was so much that was unfeasible in the story. Just like the wallabies.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Athenian matters

Well, it's been a week of sights (and sites) to refresh the eyes. As planned, we used our week in Athens mainly to visit museums - the Cycladic, New Acropolis, Archaeological, Benaki and Byzantine. Sadly, the museum shops did not deliver the goods as we had hoped, in terms of catalogues (and in my case gold replica jewellery - perhaps just as well!). And often there were no postcards of the exhibits we liked best.

But there was an exhibition called Worshiping [sic] Women at the Archaeological Museum and I was able to get an English catalogue for that. The Parthenon itself was covered in scaffolding but I expect I will forget that when I look back on it. We could see it - just - from our hotel's roof terrace. I was a bit apprehensive about the walk up but there is a very gentle slope, taking us past such interesting things like Dionysius' amphitheatre, where the great Greek tragedies were first performed.

The new museum was a treat and would surely persuade any doubter that the British Museum should give the marbles back on permanent loan.

We got season tickets on the Athens Metro - all three lines of it! - and became expert at getting around that way.

I read Ruth Rendell's Portobello, which was atmospheric but a bit pointless, and Aravind Adiga's Between the Assassinations, which ditto, but differently. Am now reading Umberto Eco's Island of the Day Before.

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