Hamble Campbell's Home Page

An occasional window on Hamble Campbell's world.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Strange Norrell

I had been enjoying this book, but it's tooooooooooooo long. About half way through (page 400) I started thinking about the meaning of life and whether mine would be improved by persisting with this novel. I decided to read the last hundred pages or so but found that too much had happened to the characters in the intervening 300 pages for me to be able to make head or tail of it. I think reading all of this novel would be like eating an enormous pudding, but not exactly like it.

When I used to be a Saturday girl at the library and I read a great many blurbs, which experience has enabled me to bluff and blag quite satisfactorily.

I shall admit to not reading the whole of The Master and Margherita by Bulgarkhov or someone with a name like that. I left out the entire Pontius Pilate section. Any one else got any book-skipping to admit?

While I'm confessing, I'd like to admit to not going to hear my daughter sing in her school concert today, no excuse or reason - just couldn't be bothered. Is she in danger of turning into one of the rascals I was moaning about the other day, I wonder?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Is it because I am getting older, I wonder, that rascals seem to be getting younger?

From careful observations made at school, the children begin to display signs of rascality in year 5 - that is, when they are about ten years old. The signs include: eye rolling: insolent silence when spoken to; occupying all of the pavement as part of a group of like-minded children when someone's trying to walk past; sitting sulkily in the park, alone, occasionally screaming, "bitch!" to girls of their acquaintance who happen to pass by.

It is my belief that most of these offensive characteristics are born of a frustration on the part of the child. The child is desperate for attention from her parents. It seems to me that a lot of the children's bad behaviour is motivated by a need for attention and an anger that they are not getting it from their parents.

Children often don't get the attention they need and deserve from their parents because their parents are too busy to give it. Parents are too busy because they work such long hours. Often both parents work full time, and when they come in from work they have all their domestic chores to do. Often families do not eat together because of time pressures. Family conversations do not take place.

The Government seems to want to exacerbate the problem, with pre-school and after-school clubs where children are merely child-minded, and not given individual attention. What the Government ought to do, in my opinion, is to ensure that people are paid enough to enable families to just have one person going out to work, and one person to look after children and home. Rent/mortgates are too expensive - especially here in the south.

If people had more relaxed lifestyles and ate proper meals together, there would be less obseity, stress, unhappiness and many of those other negatives, for all family members. We would have a better society.

What do you think?

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Duck decoys

On my bookshelf, where my books used to be before I gave nearly all of them to Oxfam, is a wooden pigeon. Very beautiful I think but not so easy to read.

I think it's made from the wood of a pear tree, all from one piece, carved nicely and smoothly, including a very realistic beak and a tail that any bird would be proud of. Then he's been painted to look authentically pigeon-like (grey).

Obviously not a duck decoy. These were (apparently) once rudimentary duck forms (maybe even just a brick dressed up) which would lure the real ducks down from the skies to be shot and sold for dinner. When this trade dried up the duck hunters took to producing ornamental duck decoys and then ornamental any-old bird that looked pretty ornamental decoys. Some even have the individual feather patterns burnt on to enhance their life-likeness. This craft began in America, but my decoy was made by someone in our village. Wading birds seem to be most popular, maybe because of their long legs, which are usually represented by a stick. My pigeon has two nice straight legs. I think he is unusual because he's not a water fowl so unlike most decoys.

He looks mighty fine on my white shelf with a white wall background.


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Think of a number and double it.

I have been idling away my time looking at art sales on the internet. I was able to follow the career of one painting in particular and from what I can gather suspect that its story may be typical.

This artwork, a lithograph, was bought by the government a couple of years ago. It was then sold at auction and lay low for six months, whereupon it was offered for sale at more than twice its auction sale price. The increase was £600. Although there are fees associated with buying and selling at auction, this seems an enormous price hike.

It is interesting to consider the idea of value and worth, especially in connection with art for sale. Fashion and economics dictate what people want and vice versa.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Merry harvest

New this week: hobbies report:
Book: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susannah Clark. Exploring flowers in watercolour by Siriol Sherlock.
CD: Bert Jansch; Ella Fitzgerald sings the Gershwin songbook.
I am painting: a clematis.
I am singing: The Armed Man by Karl Jenkins.

Wednesday I spent the entire evening dealing with redcurrants. The tyranny of the garden. I picked 5lb of fruit and then washed and picked it over and weighed it out into 1lb freezer bags with 40z sugar. Told myself this is work I won't need to do later in the year when I want to make a dessert ..... pavlova, ice cream, creme brulee, crumble, cheesecake and what have you.

Tonight, spent more time picking fruit from our two redcurrant bushes and still there is plenty left in case I find I have an idle moment and have nothing better to do. Then in days to come there will be blackcurrants, strawberries, raspberries. When will I finish Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel, I ask you?

What an idyllic sight we do make here this evening. All sitting on sofas watching Franco Zefferelli's (spelling?) Romeo and Juliet. (One of us is doing this for their GCSE). Even doggy might be listening - though her eyes are shut her ears never are.

We borrowed this DVD from Amazon and I have to say this system has really been a good thing for us. We've seen quite a few French films and one or two German ones too. (One of us is doing French and German GCSEs). I've got "House of Flying Daggers" next as I quite enjoyed Crouching /Hiding. Alwyn Crawshaw's water colour painting course was interesting and it was nice to see Dead of Night again without having to go to all the trouble of videoing it. And the best thing is that I don't have to actually own any of these DVDs and clutter my house up with them. If you are interested, it's £7.99 a month for 4 DVDs.

I had to move a load of eleven year olds out of the way coming back from the corner shop today. They seemingly would have liked me to divert my route off the pavement onto the wet grass verge to get round them but I insisted they move out of the way. They put me in mind of a dog who tries to assert some dominance by lying across the doorway. And another thing; I greeted them cordially and was met with a stony silence and sulky, menacing glares. I have noticed this with children from this age up. They walk past you in the street as if they don't know you from a bar of soap, whereas in the previous year they would have been perfectly happy to say hello. They are children from the school I work at, or friends of my children, or children of my friends. Good manners are so unfashionable. These youths need speaking to. And then they need to speak back.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

It's been a long time...

Firstly, reader, I'd like to apologise for not blogging more often. There really is no excuse, so I won't trouble you with one.

Secondly, being the recipient of a "comprehensive" school education in the sixties and seventies, I am naturally unsure if the apostrophe in the title of this blog is supposed to be there or not (from a punctuation standpoint). I'd always been governed by my own rule - "It's raining" - the apostrophe is like a raindrop, so you need an apostrophe when "it's" means "it is", but not to indicate possession. But what about "it's" when you mean "it has"? I'm assuming the "it is"rule applies. But please do correct me if I'm wrong. But don't bother to mention that one should not start a sentence with "but" - this is a point of personal style.

Changing the subject - Bird calls.

Bloddie and Kay Tumble (that is to say Bill Oddie and Kate Humble on tv's Spring Watch) say that the collared dove or the wood pigeon (not sure which) is calling "I don't know", or alternatively, "My toe hurts". I wake up each morning to one of those pigeon-y sort of birds calling, "You're very sweet, you're very sweet." I can't make it sound like anything else. By the by, this does make me think of Poe's "Murders in the Rue ...", in which several witnesses think they hear a named foreign accent, each nationality blaming another - can't quite remember the details but then I did read it when I was 17 and now I'm, oooh, between 40 and 42. (Though I seem much younger).

The bird they say calls "Teacher, teacher," does, I'd agree - but I can't always remember its name - I'll hazard a guess at a Great Tit ... (goes to check) ... yes, that's right.

Time for a little bit of bread and no cheese, and maybe a glass of rioja. Although the other day I had some really nice sherry-type wine from Languedoc region with a name like Banyuls...Rivages Pauillac .... If you know where they sell it cheap let me know.

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