Thanks to a series of other things, I only just got round to having my birthday party, and you know what that means: curry buffet!
Wow, don’t sound too excited.
But anyway, a couple of people have asked me for the recipes, so here they are. They’re adapted because a) it turned out that the party-day was the hottest day in the history of the state, so I tried to make the recipes as light as possible (no thick sauces, small juicy vegetables) and b) the gamut of guests’ tastes ran from “Even a homeopathic chilli pill would set my mouth on fire” to “I want experience true pain”, so the spiciness of these varies quite a bit. Enjoy!
So, I finished Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer last night. My initial impressions were unchanged – it’s a great, nuanced, complex story about identity. About how our upbringings shape who we are and who we want to be and who we don’t want to be. It’s about South Africa and how bad things can get, and how hard it is to shake off rotten institutions even with justice and rightness and the best will in the world. it’s about the blame we deserve and the blame we don’t deserve but which belongs to us nevertheless. I’m honestly surprised that I’ve never had this book recommended to me, so I’m recommending it now. I saw a reviewer had said it was a worthy book but with no joy or pleasure in the reading. I have to disagree with that. The writing is beautiful and Rosa Burger’s life is compelling and rich. Though the context in which it is lived is pretty bleak, I wouldn’t say it was a joyless book at all.
And now indulge me in another spontaneous poem, which is infinitely less serious than seminal South African literature.
I only have one more poem to share from this session. After this I’ll no doubt start moving some other old stuff over here though.
No recommendations today, as I just finished Grey and although I appreciated the closure on the series, you can just imagine a terrible stalking experience except the stalker is a billionaire and there you have it: you have experienced Grey. Congratulations.
I have, however, begun reading Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer. It’s dense and intense and a very focused read. The difficulty of the language – or rather the obscurity of the sentences – draws you in with that focus, to a world which I believe is (thankfully) unthinkable to most white, Western people of my age, and it makes you think about it. Crazy uncomfortable, but you can’t – mustn’t – look away. More as I progress.
And now for a poem.
Time to post the second-last of my poetry binge. Try not to be too sad.
Before that though, I have this much-vaunted reading list which is like my actual child right now. I’m never going to get to the end of it. On it go books of films I watch (so Sneak is a reading list KILLER) and the best-known, most prizewinning, or first book by any deceased author I haven’t read yet. That last one is in real time, or else I really would never get to the end of this list. Of course there are exceptions – any book recommended by a friend or anything that just really catches my eye goes down as well.
I mean right now I’m reading EL James’s Grey, so I’m not that much of a book snob, I promise.
But I just wanted to recommend more poetry, because honestly with poetry I just don’t know where to start, and it’s nice to keep a record of the things that I’ve liked. So, through my book list (and haunting the Guardian’s Books section at the slightest hint of boredom) I put down a book by Dermot Healy, called A Fool’s Errand. It’s a book-length poem split into “chapters”, and the theme is a flock of geese migrating from near his Irish home to Greenland and back. I’m glad I started reading it after I came to the end of my poetry-writing spree, because it is good.
The geese scene from TH White’s The Once and Future King was my favourite part of the whole book, and A Fool’s Errand just tapped right back into that scenery for me. Right back into that wet, cold, windy place, and the mysterious ritual of migration. The rising restlessness, the false alarm flights and finally the big lift-off, the amazing journey. Around this you see the geese from all angles, above and below, and Healy was a master of imagery. Birds as orchestra – or orchestra as birds? Simple things like a wind through a house slamming an open door become beautiful things, but always still simple, always just what they are. It’s gorgeous and you should read it.
My own feeble attempt is below, as always. Continue reading
Poem time again!
First, I want to leave a recommendation here, instead of just presenting my ridiculous free verse. It’s kind of like a “Here’s what you could have won” sort of deal.
I want to introduce you to someone I met for three weeks when I was 15.
So I was lucky enough to be invited to go to the very first NAGTY summer school, on a creative writing course. It was crazy fun, as you can imagine (I’ll probably reminisce about this more in future), and to be honest, most of us were just precocious. There was one girl who really stood out though, even then. Like, she was a poet (my genre of choice was trashy fantasy) and she was so far above my level it was like a wren looking at a condor. Even now I remember lines of the poems she wrote during those three weeks. She was really quiet, but I remember her laughing at the silliest things. She has almost certainly forgotten I exist, thankfully, so she won’t see my terrible poetry…
My own fledgling work will be hidden behind a readmore out of respect/shame.
I’m really enjoying messing around with poetry. I should be finishing off a story but stories are long and ungrateful and poems are short and manageable.
If you’re unfamiliar with my writing then Spuggy says this is pretty representative of my themes, and I can agree with that. Representative themes of the Dove school are ‘bones’ and ‘putting things into other things’.
Also I’m really sorry about the title.
First of all, if you haven’t read Uptalk by Kimmy Walters I recommend you do so. Even if you don’t like freeverse poetry at least give it a try (borrow my copy! Have a read!) Ignore the reviews on the link above if that kind of thing annoys you, by the way. I guess indie poetry will always attract that kind of indie poetry reviewer. If it makes you roll your eyes, just listen to me instead: Read it. It’s good.
I’m kind of hit and miss on freeverse (read any highly-commented freeverse on Deviantart and you’ve read them all), but Kimmy Walters hit it every time for me. I keep going back, just opening the book and rereading a poem or two. I can’t help it. I love the directions they take, and the images they invoke. I love the spaces where they’ve been hollowed out and sculpted down into these streamlined, wandering ideas.
Aaaaand, I thought I’d try it out for myself. Here is poem 1 of at least several.
Every week, the Frankfurt Metropolis Cinestar cinema shows a “Sneak Preview” of a random upcoming English film. We attend every week, which means that over the course of the year, we get to see a good selection of everything Hollywood and Pinewood have to offer.
And, as Dove suggested, it might be fun to look back over the year of films and do a bit of stats. Sneak seems to be loaded with gritty thrillers, but how many are there, really? How many films go on so long that we miss the last train?
After weeks of work, the S-Bahn is running properly once more! To celebrate, here’s one of my favourite little maths problems. It’s something I first noticed during the torturously long wait for a Merseyrail train before the timetable improvements. I haven’t a clue whether it has a real name, so for now, let’s call it the S-Bahn Paradox.
Suppose you want to go from Frankfurt West to Frankfurt Süd (this was the limit until the building work ended). Well, there’s a train precisely every five minutes during the day, and the journey takes almost exactly 15 minutes (more like 16, but let’s say 15). As you travel, you’ll pass trains travelling in the other direction. Supposing you leave just as the next train is coming in, how many will you meet along the way (including the ones at the start and end stations)?
15 minutes, a train every five minutes, that means that there are three five minute periods, and (not forgetting the train you meet at time zero), you meet four trains altogether, right?
Well, not quite.
Let’s do this the easy way, with pictures. Here’s our train line, straightened out and with the stations removed (as well as trains that don’t travel the full distance between West and Süd). Our train is on the left hand track, facing south. Each tick represents the distance that the train can travel in one minute. (It doesn’t matter that this distance may vary as the train speeds up and slows down – all that matters is average speed)
As you can see from the number on the right, we’ve just met one train, and there are three more waiting for us. The four theory’s looking pretty good right now. Let’s see what happens if we bump the clock along by one minute.