The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Monday, 13 September 2021

All quiet here!

There's not much going on around here to be honest - hence my not posting for a while. But at least not having much planned has given me more time to binge watch a few programmes and read several books (at the same time, usually). I've not long finished reading The Governess (thank you Ms Moon I believe) and I really enjoyed it. While I know it was fiction Marion Crawford was indeed the governess to Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret and it's written from her perspective as someone who wanted to work teaching poor kids in the slums - and ended up becoming the governess of the future Queen of England! She doesn't write particularly favourably about the "dear old Queen Mum" and, for whatever reason, I always felt that the Queen Mother was calculating, to say the least. How would I know? Well I don't of course, but she was just someone I didn't take to for some reason. Then I started reading Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss, which I'm enjoying too, after finishing All The Things I Never Told You. I suppose I go from wanting to read the "fluffy stuff" for a while and then feel I need something a bit more substantial to get my teeth into, so I started reading The Looming Tower, which is all about the rise of Osama bin Laden and Al-Queda! It's hard going because so many of them have the same name but in the end there really are only a few names that you need to hang on to. It takes you from the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt at the time of Nasser and how the different factions fought against each other, with the progressives pitted against those who wanted a return to a more fundamentalist State. It has tended to be a book that I put down and pick up again every so often as I have to be in the right mood for it, but one thing that stands out immediately is what a clever man bin Laden's father was. An illiterate, penniless Yemeni, he made his way to Saudi Arabia as a labourer and worked his way up through the ranks to become head of the largest construction company in Saudi Arabia. Of course he apparently also sired 54 children by 22 wives, with Osama's mother being just 14 when he married her and while that way of life is totally alien to me, of course, there's no denying he was a clever man!

One thing that struck me in the book was that it was not unknown for men to be "offered" the possibility to take a wife during the afternoon and then to divorce her the next day (so State sanctioned prostitution then, or more accurately, State sanctioned sexual abuse!), and when I mentioned this to the Dutchman he told me that he had been offered such an "arrangement" on one of his many work trips if he was ever "at a loss for something to do in the evenings"! Thankfully he turned the offer down!

I have also started reading Skint Estate by Cash Carraway, detailing her horrific life in poverty in England. Her mother was violent and her father abandoned them, so she was left to make a living any way she could - with the obvious answer being prostitution and performing in a peep show flop house in London. The story pretty much starts with her finding out she is pregnant by her violent boyfriend and running away to a women's refuge in order to be able to keep her baby. Her story is gross and stomach-churning, but for someone with so little education - except what she received on the streets - she is a clever and talented writer who, I believe, was able to drag herself and her daughter up out of the gutter on the strength of that book deal!

Talking of the Dutchman, I'm pleased to say that after about eight weeks he finally seems to be back to his old self. He came over the other Friday and we walked into Cluses as I had to drop off my old wifi box with my service provider, and we easily walked 12 km that day - and this from a man who couldn't walk 500 metres these past few months! When we got back we started watching The Irishman on Netflix, as he had wanted to see it for sometime (I don't think it ever came out in cinemas here). As it's three-and-a-half hours long we didn't get all the way through it, so something tells me he'll be coming back over to finish watching that soon!

I managed to slog my way through The Kominsky Method (there's another how many hours of my life I'll never get back?) but I wasn't impressed with it. Oh Alan Arkin stole the show and much of the dialogue was very clever but it just seemed to me a showcase for Michael Douglas playing an old lech so it wasn't for me. I should have realized when I started fast-forwarding through the parts where he's teaching in his acting studio that I should have given up right there and then! But I then finally discovered that I could get Doctor Foster on a streaming network called Salto and binge-watched that this past week (I told you I've really done bugger all lately). I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Foster but I do wonder if she was almost as psychopathic as her husband. It was all very gripping, but all that bed-hopping in merry old England - well, whatever next!

Jen started the babe off on "solids" (well mush really) and he's loving it. She gives him his own spoon at the same time as she's feeding him and you just have to keep ducking if you don't want to get puréed broccoli all over your hair and clothes. She's puréeing everything herself from fresh, except for a couple of veggies that she thinks might be a bit stringy for him as yet, so she bought a couple of pots of baby food. When I asked her if they were for the crèche she said no, that the crèche makes all the food for the children themselves - the parents don't have to provide it. I was dead impressed! When I told my sister how little they pay for the crèche (around €180/month for three days a week) she almost fainted. Heck, I was paying 720 Swiss francs a month back in 1989 for André in Switzerland (it'd be over SF 2,000/month now) and when you see what a lovely crèche it is and how well it's run, I guess you have to admit it's one of the benefits of a socialist state!

Anyway, that's about it for today. The only thing that grew in my garden this year was tomatoes so I've got to go downstairs and process some of that lovely produce before it goes off. Other than tomatoes I don't really know why I bother planting a garden really. I'm all gung-ho at the beginning and then just think "sod it" by the end of the summer and leave it to Mother Nature, who gives me a few tomatoes and makes the rest over to the slugs!

14 comments:

  1. I loved The Governess too and I'm tempted to get her new one The Duchess which is apparently about Mrs Simpson. I agree with you about the Queen mum, I always got the impression she was a piece of work and Princess Margaret too. I've just finished Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray which I enjoyed. It's about a hoarder and I must admit that after finishing it I felt a huge urge to do some decluttering here lol. I've not watched much tv but I'm watching Nine Perfect Strangers on Prime and it's very good. I read the book in Australia and it was excellent, the series isn't following the book exactly so far but its good.
    Nice to hear your Dutchman is much better now. He's had a rotten time of it lately.
    I remember well those days when babies had their own spoon! Plastic sheets on the floor every mealtime lol. Not to mention wanting you to try some too - sometimes that was nicer than others!!

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    1. Oh I remember now, it was you that told me about The Governess - it was very good wasn't it! And you're also the second person today I've seen mentioning Nine Perfect Strangers so I'll have to check that out. And you're right about feeding babies. That was one thing I hated - cleaning up the high chair, the table, the floor - well everywhere really - when they'd done eating. Considering he's only five months old he does a pretty good job of getting that spoon in his mouth - but also up his nose and in his ears too of course!

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  2. My tomatoes died on the vine, I did get a couple cucumbers, and two eggplants, as well as peppers. Daycare over here is unbelievably expensive. I'm so glad all I have to deal with are dogs.

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    1. This year has been a rotten year for the veggie plot, what with all the rain, but I have to admit I run out of steam and don't take care of it either so I might just face reality next year and buy the bloody things - although you can't beat a home-grown tomato can you. And I think day care is expensive in most countries - well maybe not in socialist countries though. Switzerland is horrendously expensive and my sister in England took care of her two grandchildren when they were little because the sheer cost of day care for two kids would have made it not worth my niece going back to work! (But dogs can be bloody expensive too - as I've seen from my friend who had three at one time)!

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  3. I don't think I've ever read "The Governess" so I don't think I was the one who suggested it. Sounds good though.
    So glad that your Dutchman is recovered. Did they ever figure out what it was he had? That was a very long period of healing.
    I would indeed agree that a child care arrangement like that for such a price with homemade food is absolutely a benefit of a socialist state. What a beautiful thing!

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    1. I just realized it was Mark's Gran that mentioned the book - and very good it was too! As for the Dutchman, he really was knocked off his feet for about eight weeks and last time he went to the doctor he told him that he had all the symptoms of long covid - despite the fact that he's never had covid, tested negative at the hospital the day he drove himself in and has had both vaccine shots. So unless it flares up again I don't think they will ever know. And you're right, that day care is wonderful. Jen was telling me when he gets a little older they start learning sign language!!!! My sister lives in Denmark and had four children and I'm pretty sure medicine, day care and university are all free over there. Well, paid for in their taxes but they certainly get a lot back for all that tax!

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  4. I know so little about the monarchy, it wouldn't matter if greatly fictionalized. You've been reading some heavy topics.

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    1. Watching The Crown was great for me because while I knew the names of so many of the politicians when I was growing up, I didn't really know "which side they were on" or what their politics were, so The Crown was very informative in that sense. And like Mark's Gran said, I never liked the Queen Mother for some reason - and as for Princess Margaret - berkkkk! She was a beautiful young woman - and a horrendous cow by all accounts! Oh and I do get into some pretty heavy reading sometimes (my nephew recommended The Looming Tower to me). I've also not long finished reading Rosa Koire's Behind The Green Mask. It was a hard read (all about UN Agenda 2020) and very scary stuff!

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  5. Maybe we should exchange some produce because strangely and despite a warm summer my tomatoes just don’t seem to be ripening. A lack of sunshine at the crucial juncture perhaps? Decent crop of everything else though and the peas and beans are still cropping strongly whereas normally they’d be finished by now. Just can’t work it out.

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    1. The tomatoes were terrible last year and I thought it would be same this year because of all the rain, but you might be right. When we FINALLY got the heat and sunshine they all ripened at once. I was very good about dumping all my grass clippings into my raised beds last autumn and that may have done them a lot of good too but who knows really. I'm never going to be Monty Don!

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  6. I just picked baby tomatoes off the vine - but my mom grew them not me. She's away for a couple weeks so I am home alone and loving it. I have tried to watch Professor T but I am not 100% in love with it. Definitely love a good read whenever I can too! Happy your Dutchman is feeling better :)

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    1. Home grown tomatoes are just the best, although if I lived in Turin and could go to their market daily I would think I'd died and gone to heaven

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  7. Watching and reading things about the royal family, I also got a devious vibe from the queen mum.
    I'd never heard about that marriage/divorce thing, but it makes sense because it benefits men and they created the idea.

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    1. Well that book was fiction but the Queen Mother comes off as very cynical, unempathetic and scheming in it. That being said, I can think of nothing worse than being part of the Royal Family!!!! Re the marriage/divorce thing, I have to admit even I was shocked to read that but then should anything shock us any more? I did wonder if the poor women were then considered "damaged goods" after it too!

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