Friday, October 30, 2009

A top top ten

Sandi Toksvig on the real-life heroines that have inspired her (in The Guardian):
The niece of the great Mongol leader, Kubla Khan, Princess Khutulun was described by Marco Polo as the greatest warrior in Khan's army. She told her uncle she would marry any man who could wrestle her and win. If they lost they had to give her 100 horses. She died unmarried with 10,000 horses.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Lately I've been ...

The Letters of Evelyn Waugh and Diana Cooper, which were, of course, delightful but also rather poignant towards the end. It's fascinating to read his earlier letters through the prism of Brideshead Revisited and see the young Charles Ryder taking shape. (He wrote Brideshead in four months - now doesn't that put us all to shame?)
Lady's Maid, by Margaret Forster, a novel in the voice of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's maid, Wilson. It started promisingly but went on and on until I was almost desperate for poor Elizabeth to drop off the twig. (Now there's a story that could do with a new movie treatment. So long as Brad Pitt wasn't cast as Robert. Perhaps it could be a Fiennes of some sort. And for God's sake don't let Gwyneth anywhere near it.)
Now I'm reading Soul Mountain, by Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian. I'm surprised by regular jarring cliches, but assume it's the translation. And now I know who to blame for that rash of second-person narrative of a couple of years ago.

The second series of Mad Men on DVD.
I love a cuff link.

Stephen Fry in America
I love a charming gay eccentric genius.

Oh and did I mention how brilliant Blessed is?

The dramatic horseback race across 17th century Italy, by a girl who hates ships (now there's a turn up for the books).

On a beach in north Queensland.

But I won't bang on about that here: go there instead.