Feline Focus

Feline Focus
My latest puma, July 2016


Beloved companion to Sarah, Nov 2015

Window To The Soul

Window To The Soul
Watercolour Horse, June 2015

Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping Beauties
Watercolour Lionesses, Nov 2012


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

Groucho Marx

Snow Stalker

Snow Stalker
Another snow leopard - my latest watercolour offering - July 2013

26 July 2016


A small selection of my books, presided over by a small Pooh

I love quotes - which you may have noticed if you’ve looked around my blog.  Unfortunately, there isn’t enough room to fit in as many as I would like, otherwise there would hardly be space for anything else.  (I am thinking of adding another Page to the sidebar, for other random quotes I’ve collected.  Probably to be called “Quote Unquote”.)

I also love books.  And, since a lot of great quotes come from literature, I’ve decided to combine the two, and start what will hopefully be a regular series of posts where I share favourite quotes or passages from my books, with a few of my own thoughts about it, and a photo or two of said book attached (as it’s given me a reason to use the camera I’ve had, and hardly used, for nearly three years).

Just to reassure you, despite the possible implications of the title, this is not going to be filled with words from great, deep (the kind you need a JCB for to dig up the meaning), heavy, worthy, ’classic’ works of literature; nor, even, any such recent books.  

That is not the kind of stuff that I like: it bores the arse off of me, and I am hopeless at finding the deeper, symbolic meaning in those stories, despite the fact that I love the English language, and seem to have been born with a natural affinity for it.  Well, for using it: trying to understand everyone else’s use of it tends to leave me flummoxed.

I did take 'A' Level English Literature at college, where we studied and analysed great works of literature.  Well, at least, everyone else did: I simply floundered, and failed miserably at it.  I think it might have derailed my love of reading for a long time after that.  Mind you, for some perverse reason when I left college I started reading more classic books - like the whole of the Brontë canon, and Thomas Hardy, along with things we hadn’t studied, like Jane Austen.  I don’t know what’s going on in my brain half the time.  

A large Pooh with a different view

Ironically, despite it being thirty years ago since I left college, I do remember all of the books we studied; they were indelibly imprinted into my brain through repeated analysis.  Therefore, I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane, and share the joy with you.  So here they are:

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer 
Thankfully we only studied one of them (can’t remember the name now, but it was one of the lesser-known ones).  It was in the original “olde" English, which we had to translate into modern English, before having to interpret the bloody thing!  The only thing I can remember is that there was an old, blind man with a very young wife, and she was having an affair with some young bloke.  The husband found this out in an embarrassingly explicit scene when, having had his sight come back, he went to tell her, only to find them having sex in a tree.  Bizarre.  And tedious.  And completely mind-boggling to me: why, and how, would anyone have sex in a tree?  

Othello by William Shakespeare 
Early example of interracial marriage, and the power of jealousy to destroy.  And a symbolic description of a slimy toad.  Again with the having to translate it first, though not so dense as Chaucer.  Nothing could be so dense as Chaucer.  Not too bad after having the imagery and language explained (so that basically covers the whole thing then), though I wouldn’t understand it by myself.  But I remember the main characters - Desdemona, Iago, Cassio, and, of course, the eponymous Othello.  And there’s dying.

Richard the Second by William Shakespeare 
The less famous of the two Richards (the other one being the Third, and having a hump).  Sad bloke, bit whiney, completely lacking in any self-awareness, especially of how he got himself in this mess.  Vaguely recall the famous speech about “this sceptred Isle, this England…”, and characters called Bolingbroke, and John of Gaunt.  And Richard dies in the end.  Of course.  

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë  
Oh my God, one of the most torturous, tortuous, and utterly tedious books I’ve ever read.  I just wanted to slap Cathy, and drop Heathcliff off a cliff.  I’m happy to say I think they both died in the end.  

The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley  
I think we must have really hammered at this one because not only do I remember the plot (boy goes to stay with his friend, falls in love with friend’s much older sister; sister is having affair with local farmer, which is forbidden ‘cos he’s lower class; sister and farmer use boy to deliver messages between them; sister and farmer get caught in flagrante delicto; all goes pear-shaped, blah blah blah.  All very heart-wrenching and tedious), but I also remember the first line: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”  Plus a scene with a red bicycle, which is meant as a phallic symbol, ‘cos it’s just before the sister and the farmer get caught having sex.  Went right over my head.  No death, just heart-wrenching separation and longing.  I longed to be separated from the book.

Volpone by Ben Jonson  
About a man (a costermonger, I think) whose name (the title of the book) reflects his character - literal translation ‘the Fox’: wily, sneaky, sly, and untrustworthy.  I think he tries to seduce the daughter of some wealthy merchant, but I’m not certain.  By the time we got to this book in the course, I think I’d lost the will to live.  And the ability to retain any more information.

The Return of The Native by Thomas Hardy  
I mistakenly thought this was going to be about a black person in Africa (I had a one-dimensional interpretation of the word ‘native’ at that time).  So you can imagine my surprise when it turned out to be about some white woman returning to her home somewhere in England (or was it Wales?  It eludes me, the tale was so riveting.  Perhaps I’m getting confused because I think there was a t.v. version made with Catherine Zeta Jones, who is Welsh).  And that’s about as much as I can remember, other than that, as with all Hardy books, it was terribly fraught, dark, and depressing, and someone probably died at the end.  Oh, and lots and lots of symbolism, to do with the scenery.  Which was dark, dank, and donk.*

A few more books

And there you have a brief history of my literary history.  Thankfully I eventually moved on from all of that, and I found stuff that I really liked (as opposed to more of the stuff I thought I should like, due to my literary aspirations, and my unfortunate autistic propensity for absorbing and copying whatever I come into contact with).  This means Terry Pratchett, and a whole lot of children’s books - especially Winnie the Pooh (the REAL one, NOT the Disney one), The Secret Garden, and The Chronicles of Narnia.  Expect lots of quotes to be culled from these.

In keeping with my newly discovered enthusiasm for blogging, based on the principle of NOT following a plan, I will not be making proclamations about how often, and on what day, I shall be posting these snippets.  That way lies madness - and the inevitability that I shall end up doing the opposite, which could mean not at all, ’cos that’s in my nature.  

I am hoping to post them regularly, but that could mean anything from once a week to once a month, or even (God forbid) once a year, and anything in-between: so expect them when they arrive.  I’m also hoping that, in the new spirit of continuity I am attempting to achieve, they will serve as inspiration for me to stay connected to my blog, giving me something to write if I run out of ideas for a random post.  I guess we’ll see.  I’m trying to go with the flow, and let things evolve organically, rather than attempting to force them to follow a path I’ve dictated is the right one (which is based on what I’ve read about how everyone else does it).

So there we go.  I’ll shut up now.  This was meant to be a short introduction, but see what I mean?  I say I’m going to do one thing, and the opposite occurs.  I will shut up now.  Bye bye.  Happy reading. 

* This is a line from one of The Goon Show episodes.  I can’t remember which one. 

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
An experiment in watercolour and gouache

Quotes Quota

"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.

"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."

From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Copied from photograph of the same name by Roberto Dutesco

Quotes Quota

"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama

"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."

Malcolm X

On The Prowl

On The Prowl
Watercolour tiger

Quotes Quota

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step."

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."

C S Lewis