Dance!

I used to love going dancing (and I´m sure I would again), and here is a delightful series about the history of dance, from a British perspective perhaps, that really brings out the enthusiasm and exuberance of its presenter Lucy Morsley, who teams up with British dance legend Len Goodman. You can find episode 1 and episode 2 on youtube. I really enjoyed this!

“You´re supposed to be an academic!” says Len as she hops about…  😀

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Brazilian Aquarelle

Bleubeard & Elisabeth are working on a South American project, which reminded me of this great film from Disney, that we had when I was a child. At that time, Swedish television (all two channels) weren´t exactly spoiling us with cartoons, and my parents buying a VCR was the most amazing thing. I saw this film so many times, I know it all by heart. Some fifteen years ago, I bought it on video in Spain, and once in a while it´s handy when we have children in the house. Of course, now almost everything can be found on youtube.

This is the entire South America tour with Donald & Friends, but my favourite is the last episode where José and Donald “does the town”. Enjoy!

Boulet having a cleanout

Sleet all day yesterday. I put my shopping down on the ground during a short break in the downpour and got the pad out, only for it to start up again. Really, it is impossible! We need proper snow and below-zero temperatures! (…a little voice in the back of my head is whispering: be careful what you wish for…)

Anyway: I re-discovered Boulet and laughed so hard at several of the recent comics. This one made me think of Marie Kondo….

The Historical Farms

Ruth Goodman, 1600's.
An attempt to sketch Ruth Goodman in 1600’s dress.

I got the tip to check out the British television series “The Victorian Farm” by artist/author/blogger James Gurney, and I got sucked right in! The concept is irresistible: a team of archeologists and historians live on a historic farm for a year, demonstrating and re-discovering how the work was done and how people lived.

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Peter Ginn, shepherding.

The first in the series is “Tales from the Green Valley“, where they re-create life on a Jacobean farm in Wales – we are talking about the early 1600´s, Shakespeare´s days. That series was so successful that they went on to make “The Victorian Farm”, “The Edwardian Farm“, and “Wartime Farm“, which I am currently watching (this was also made into a course at the Open University). There is also “Secrets of the Castle” and “Tudor Monastery Farm“.

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Ruth Goodman, as herself.
Ruth Goodman, looking like herself.

I have to issue a bit of a warning: this stuff is addictive. I couldn´t find all the episodes on youtube in the Edwardian series, and some of the episodes are a bit wonky. Naturally, they want you to buy the dvd-sets. And the books. It´s like a little industry, and at its heart you find Ruth Goodman, my new idol, and Peter Ginn, who are both in all of the series. Up to “Wartime Farm” there is also Alex Langlands, who has since returned to academia. These three make a great team, and I can´t get enough of them.

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Alex Langlands in wartime garb.

It really is fascinating to learn all those things that the regular history books fail to mention: what people ate, how they slept, how they worked, how they managed waste, how they socialized. When it comes to “Wartime Farm” I was surprised at how much new information they had on how farming, and the whole country, really, was managed during the Second World War, a period in history I think I am fairly well read on. Ruth Goodman is endlessly fascinated and fascinating, with her infectious enthusiasm. It is also quite moving to see these two young men, academics and (or so I imagine) city boys, bond with the animals, bringing lambs and piglets into the world. I recommend this warmly.

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“Rubbernecker” by Belinda Bauer

(Swedish: “Betraktaren”)

I had a real epiphany about what kind of reading makes me tick when I read this post by Priya at Tabula Rasa. It explained to me why some books have made me so disappointed and why my book recommendations often fall flat. It’s the “good bits” that I want, and plot is almost of no importance at all to me. Some of my favourite books have little or no plot. Actually, I like to know how a film or a book ends before I see it or read it. I have known for quite some time that I should be careful in recommending books to others and be cautious in what recommendations I take, and this is probably part of it.

20150603_213143A cautious recommendation of this book is exactly what I got, from someone who knows me well, and I decided to go for it. I can say nothing about the style of language, since I read it in Swedish, but the translation (by Ulla Danielsson) is flawless.

This is all about plot, of course, and the premise is unusually intriguing: our hero is young Patrick Fort, he is about to start an anatomy class at university, because he wants to find out where his father, who died when he was little, has gone. Patrick has Asperger’s syndrome, a kind of autism, and since no one has managed to properly explain to him where his father has gone, he is still searching for him, this time in the body of No 19, the corpse that has been donated to science by its, hm, former inhabitant.

The dissection bit is rather interesting, and that’s what my friend said she thought I would like (“since you are going to nursing school”; though I doubt nursing students get to do much dissection; I hope not…). It is also rather funny how Patrick interacts with the people he is forced to work and live with. Of course, Patrick discovers something about the body that does not correspond with the cause of death as stated on the death certificate. Is it murder? If you want to read it, I shall not spoil your fun.

I got more than half way on the first day of reading, and then it took me two weeks to pick it up again and finish it. I was pretty sure where it was going, and I was not wrong, but I was also surprised by the very sensitive and well-composed way Bauer wraps up Patrick’s troubled relationship with his mother, and solves the puzzle with his dead father.

All-in-all, I have to declare this a very decent detective story, with a good plot, humour, and action. Perhaps you could say that Patrick’s personal conundrum is a good-bit-spread-thin-over-the-whole-book; perhaps saying that devalues or re-defines the concept of the “good bit”. The moral of the story, for me, is: not all victims are nice people, not all perpetrators are evil, and the world is probably full of regular people doing bad things for good reasons (or so they tell themselves) that will never get caught. And, a life worth living is not equal to the absence of pain.

Izzard

IMGP8897We watched the “Force Majeure” show last night, with British comedian Eddie Izzard. We are great fans of his, and have seen most of his shows on dvd. This one, however, can be found in its entirety on youtube. I do wonder what he is like to someone seeing him now for the first time – he tends to recycle his jokes, build on them, expand themes and ideas. To the delight of the audience (and us, for sure!), he returns near the end to his Death Star joke, which is probably one of his very finest.

He is also a great actor with a very decent career in Hollywood; he was wonderful in a television series called “The Riches”. Add that he is politically active for the Labour party, and he is pretty much a girl´s dream date!

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