Weekend Miscellany

Last night I planned to sit in my hotel room in Leeds and read a book – just couldn’t read. I was aching from all the carrying I’d done, and all the noises around me, hotel ones and student ones from the huge accommodation block next door where I’d deposited my daughter earlier, kept me wide awake until well after midnight. We reunited for a food shopping trip this morning, and an emotional goodbye, before the trip back to The South for me. Missing her already.

I did watch The Last Night of the Proms sat on my hotel bed, and audience-less, found it rather moving. The programme included many varied items featuring the South African soprano Golda Schultz, who was sublime; Nicola Benedetti who was a stand-in, yet played The Lark Ascending with such subtlety; and the young Finnish conductor Dalia Stasveska who was interesting to watch and took the Elgar at a fair clip. Many of the pieces had been adapted for the smaller sized 65-piece BBC Symphony Orchestra, and I enjoyed the different takes on the solos in the hornpipe as the leader and principal flautist duelled each other, the Sea Songs always being my favourite part of the later stages. It was the other co-leader’s turn this time, so I didn’t see my mid-1970s Croydon Schools 1st Orchestra alumnus Stephen Bryant leading this time. I didn’t much care for the new Jerusalem musically, but understood the premise behind it perfectly. Let’s hope we can return to live audiences and the hoo-ha they bring next year, but this year’s last night offering was particularly apt. I’m glad the Beeb changed its mind on the words, omitting a verse of Rule Britannia instead, and then having it and the Elgar sung by a small group from the BBC Singers – see it was easy!

I was sad to hear of the death of Sir Terence Conran, whom I very much admired. I can remember my first visit to the new Habitat store in Croydon, which had a creperie in it! As sixth formers, when we finished early – crepes were often the order of the day when we went into town, then we lusted after the bean bags and all the fun bits.

In 2016, I reviewed his copiously illustrated memoir My Life in Design which was fabulous.

Read my full review HERE.

My review of Hari Kunzru’s new novel, Red Pill, was published at Shiny New Books this week. Kunzru never writes the same book twice and always makes you think! This first person story of an blocked author needing a break, and hoping that a writer’s retreat in Berlin might unlock it only for it to make him paranoid was intellectual and gripping!

Read my full review HERE.

It had been a draining week, even before the trip to Leeds. I can tell – as I didn’t finish reading a single book. First week back at School, the strain of maintaining social distancing is telling. I’m wearing a mask in communal areas, and being support staff, I’m keeping myself to myself as much as possible the rest of the time. The socially distanced chairs in the staff room will only seat a handful, and we have hot drinks hubs, so there’s little social interaction. It’s strange, but we’re managing – and the pupils are loving being back.

But I did finally get my hair cut! Having had it short for a couple of years of course it grew out and put on the inches literally between February and now, I’ve opted to return to sitting just off my shoulders length again with lots of layers.

P.S. I was shocked by the number of non-mask wearers at the service station we stopped at on the way up (Welcome Break – Leicester Forest). Horrible! On the way back I stopped at a Moto one (Trowell) – and there was a lady with a basket of masks and spray just inside – Much better! But they shouldn’t have to do this – we need some fines to be handed out to get the message to the die-hards, else it will be lockdown and long queues at the supermarket again.

Hands – Face – Space!

15 thoughts on “Weekend Miscellany

  1. A Life in Books says:

    You may have to be of a certain age to understand just how much difference Terence Conran made to the way our homes look. Hope you have a few consolations lined up for your daughter’s absence, Annabel.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Conran was a huge influence on my personal taste – that remains too, even if a bit IKEA-ised these days. I will have plenty to do too! 😀

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Thanks Laura. Naturally I’m worried for her as Leeds is on the COVID watchlist. Fingers crossed and I hope she does get some face-to-face lectures and to use the arts uni facilities. I’ll cope – we’re already constantly in touch over the ether.

  2. Lois Smith says:

    Oh gosh the mention of taking your daughter to uni. for the first time really hit me in an emotional spot. Such a bleak moment for me and such a great start for her. I really hope that your daughter will thrive at Leeds despite current circs. and like mine will still be friends with those strangers we left her with fifteen years later (plus degree of course). x

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Thank you Lois. Thanks to the internet, we’re already in touch, so not so alone as back in my day. And it’s so much easier to stay in touch with school-friends plus she’s been in touch with people on her course over the summer – so friends already made which is wonderful. I’m sure she’ll love it there once settled. x

  3. Rebecca Foster says:

    A week of big adjustments for you. I imagine it’ll take a while to get used to how quiet the house is. I hope the term goes well for Juliet in Leeds, and at your school. My husband is going to start going into campus a few days a week soon. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out. When we went to Devon last month there was good mask compliance at the service station where we stopped, but it’s been variable at indoor spaces in town here.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I did let the cats sleep with me last night – normally I shut them away as they tended to wake J up roaming! Good luck to Chris too – I’ll sure they’ll put good systems in place.

  4. Calmgrove says:

    I often wonder if a child going away to college or university approaches the significance of those big events we mark — christenings, marriages, funerals — and whether it helps those who are left to make a gesture of some kind; after all it is a leave-taking, however temporary. For the offspring it’s potentially a life-changing moment, as in Joseph Campbell’s monomyth with the Call to Adventure, but the reactions of family are often neglected. Having had two children depart for higher education, Annabel, I absolutely commiserate.

    I’d happily watch any first half of a Proms Last Night but draw a line at the mindless and often unmusical jingoism from audiences in the second half. I was glad when I saw EU and other flags being unfurled in the aftermath of the referendum, but the manufactured outrage about ‘Rule Britannia’ just brought home to me just why I dislike the annual unseemly display. I’ve found that for me at least burying myself in books has softened though not muted my anger at current politics.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      It’s certainly a big moment / rite of passage for those that choose that route towards independence. I can remember my parents’ relief when I finally rang home back in 1978, but we’re lucky now having the internet/mobiles, so they’re only a quick message or text away, which softens the separation.

      The ‘Manufactured outrage’ about the LNoPs was indeed shabby, but the solution really worked and was quite dignified. Personally, I don’t mind a good sing and some fun in the second half – so I hope they’ll find the right balance in future.

  5. MarinaSofia says:

    Quite a few of my friends also have their sons or daughters going to Leeds – I do wish your daughter well and hope it will be a worthwhile, if slightly eerie experience for them this year!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Thank you! She’s in a flat of 6 (with own ensuite), so I hope her home bubble pals are nice. There’ll be lots of meeting friends outside I think. It helps that she’s been in contact with them/course-mates over the summer. Meanwhile, I’m watching that new COVID map which divvies up the country into 7000 people chunks like a hawk!

  6. kaggsysbookishramblings says:

    Oh Annabel, I do feel for you. I felt inconsolable when my first went off to uni, and it didn’t get any easier for the other two… I hope all goes well for her (and you!) And yes – aren’t the non-mask-wearing people unbelievable???

  7. kimbofo says:

    I can’t believe your daughter is off to university! I think when I first met you she was just a little girl! I trust she settles in okay and you quickly adjust to her absence.

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