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 my friend 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 my friend, 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!