Well, I survived the dinner party, but I really should have taken my crochet. At one stage another guest asked the hostess how her shoulder was getting on and it turns out that she'd injured it by doing too much crochet. At this point I confessed to being a fellow crocheter and she rushed off to fetch her absolutley stunning Babette. Needless to say she was given one of my crocheted pots as a thank you present.
(This is a before felting pic of the pot).
Reading books by men has been mixed. I enjoyed Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan, which is full of magic and feuding women. But I've given up on The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw: too many adjectives, which seem to have been chosen more because they sound euphonious, rather than for their meaning... But best of all, by a long way, is Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada: not always an easy read (it is set in Berlin in 1940 ) but one I'll go back to over and again. I've not been neglecting books by women: I'd recommend The Children's Book by A.S.Byatt, not least for its stunning visual imagery which has got me itching to design and knit a soft sculpture inspired by Art Nouveau vases; Garden Spells by Sarah Addison was a quick, pleasureable read, though I think that Alice Hoffmann's Practical Magic covered the same terrain even better; The Truth About Melody Browne, by Lisa Jewell was another quick read: I like the way that "chick lit" is growing up, there was romance in this, but the plot is really aboutrememebring and coming to terms with childhood trauma. Now I've gone back to an old favourite: Susan Howatch. I'm deep into Glamorous Powers, which is about a psychic monk questioning his vocation. It ties in with a lot of the medieval mystics that I studied years ago. On the poetry front I've just treated myself to Redgrove's Wife by Penelope Shuttle: this is a profoundly moving meditation on terminal illness, grief and moving through mourning. I've gone back to this book following the rapturous reception that Christopher Reid has received for The Scattering (including the Costa Prize), which covers similar themes. Am I being cynical when I suggest that Reid's book is the one that's gathered all the plaudits because when men talk about losing their partner it is a brave and serious thing, whereas when a woman does the same thing, well, she's just talking about feelings and that's what women do. I hasten to add that I haven't (yet) read The Scattering so I can't make an informed comment! Next on my poetry list will be The Water Table by Philip Gross, which has won the T.S.Eliot Prize: much of it is about The Severn Estuary, so it will be interesting to compare his work to Gillian Clarke's take on the same subject in Words on Water(one of the best books published last year).
I've not had many days out yet this year: a trip to Ely (which reminds me, I've also got a copy of Don Patterson's Landing Light to read, I picked that up in Topping Books); a flying visit to Oxford as I wanted to see the Edward Bawden mural in Blackwells bookshop (see how my days off turn into busman's holidays!); and, staying in Cambridge, I've enjoyed the Sickert and Spencer exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum (must go back on a weekday, it was too crowded for comfort). Still on the theme of Doing Different I've been to the theatre for the first time in many years. Ibsen's Wild Duck is as jolly as you would expect from Ibsen, but one of my colleagues was in it and she was superb.
But have I been Caught Knitting? Er, not much, but I'm pulling my socks up now and am finally making progress on the City & Guilds course that I've started with Knit Design Online. I'm having fun playing with textures at the moment, creating a curious green swatch that has been inspired by an ammonite. And I'm off to Textiles in Focus tomorrow, so watch this space!