Showing posts from November, 2023

Setting Fire to Greetings Cards isn't my Idea of the Christmas Spirit, says Griselda Heppel

Ah, December. Christmas approacheth, and what does that mean?  Television ads, of course. And, oh my, do we in the UK have a bizarre selection this year.  Stupendous New York Christmas tree. How did this happen, this escalation of The Christmas Advert? So that all the big hitters – John Lewis, Marks and Spencers, Aldi, Tesco etc – feel they have to go all out every year to outdo themselves in lavishness and sentimentality… And do they actually boost sales, the point of advertising in the first place (though you'd never guess it from these intensely concocted minidramas)?  Well, funny you should ask that (oh all right, that was me). Because, judging by the reaction to this year’s John Lewis creation, they do. Though not quite (tee hee) as the Great Retailer intended (see below).  But first to the one there’s been all the fuss about. Yup, the M & S offering , which, because of popular outcry, had the scene showing red and green paper hats burning in a fireplace removed. It isn’t

A Month to Christmas -- Susan Price

Wikimedia It's nearly Christmas and we're all even shorter of money than usual, so -- what to give as Christmas presents? BOOKS! Books, of course. And here's a link to BookShepherd, a site where you can find books recommended by 'authors and super-readers,' people who really know a good book when they find it. Book Shepherd You can even tailor your search by consulting such lists as 'The best books by journalists which capture a moment in time or history' or 'The best books that show life in the big city isn't all glitz and glam.' Recently, Book Shepherd asked me (and even some other writers) to report the best three books they'd read in the last year. Here's my Book Shepherd three... Follow the link to read the reviews There's also Book Shepherd's   '100 Best Books of 2023'   -- as voted for by '1,021 writers and super-readers. And the winner is.... You have to go and find out for yourself. But if you're buying

The Art Shop -- Clare Weiner

The Art Shop: delightfully situated in an old traditional row! Earlier this week I visited our local Art Shop… Why was this significant enough to post on Facebook (my only regular one of ‘ the socials’ )?  Maybe it’s continuity – continuity, like community, is important to human life. In my post, I also told readers that the Art Shop was a very human place. It is. For artists, crafters, sewing and modelling creatives, the art shop is an essential. Its raw materials – paints, canvases, sketchbooks, embroidery thread, pastels, drawing pens – and that essential art-shop smell… remembered from childhood, the Art Shop, with it brown painted outside, and its inner scent of pencils… Noticeably, this art shop post has attracted the longest list of ‘likes’ I can remember having – friends (‘real life’), friends (FB, only), and relatives crowded to endorse the good vibes of of a shop selling artist’s materials... Evidently, all regarding the Art Shop as a humane and satisfying place! So, why make

Give me a bell... phones, smartphones, and us - Katherine Roberts

Can you imagine a world without phones? They've been around for a while, but not as long as you might think. 1960s: Two tin cans and a piece of string.  As kids, we built our own in-house telephone system using a piece of string and two tin cans. This worked on the same principle as Alexander Graham Bell's 1877 box phone, which transmitted a voice along a wire. If DIY is not your forte, you can buy a kit from amazon: tin-can phone Alexander Graham Bell's box phone. If you want someone to call you, it's "Give me a bell". 1970s: The age of the landline . Most households had a phone by then, usually situated in the hall, where they were jealously guarded by teenagers chatting to their friends. Landline phone with rotary dial, very satisfying to use with either finger or pencil.  Now something of a collector's item (try ebay). My family, wary of the extra bill, did not get a landline installed until I headed off to university. So if I wanted to call my best fr

Tales of Beatrix Potter by Sandra Horn

November. We’ve just had two weeks in the North Lake District, where the autumn colours were glorious and the weather was sunny apart from a couple of squally days.One morning we woke to see the first snow on the top of Blencathra. I managed to see something I’ve long wanted – the falls at Lodore. Because of all the rain, they were thundering down in grand style, but that meant that the ‘path’ up to them was treacherous, so after a gallant but failed attempt to climb up closer, we saw them from a viewpoint by the hotel, but only the lower stretch was visible.   The falls are the subject of a poem by Southey, not the best poet laureate we’ve ever had, but I like this bit of it:  Dividing and gliding and sliding,  And falling and brawling and sprawling,  And driving and riving and striving,  And sprinkling and twinkling and wrinkling,  And sounding and bounding and rounding,  And bubbling and troubling and doubling,  And grumbling and rumbling and tumbling,  And clatt