…and we’re back (36.2021)

Books and Reading: I know a lot of people write about what they read, and reader-bloggers often talk about how they want to read more books from people from other cultures. For any book bloggers who are interested in reading outside their comfort zones in terms of translated novels, the Calvert Journal has published this handy list of 100 novels from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Books on this list that interest me are: Svetlana Alexievich The Umwomanly Face of War; Bohumil Hrabal I Served the King of England (the book on which Grand Budapest Hotel was based); and Guzel Yakhina Zuleikha. It’s worth reading through the list for the wonderful titles of some of the books. And again, I’m recommending one book from this list I have read: the lengthily-titled Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, translated from Polish, if you like the sound of an ecological murder-mystery.

ABBA are back! I was online in Madeira, watching the announcement of a new ABBA concert and album. All this was super exciting news. I didn’t get to go to the ABBA concert in Brisbane in 1977 but I have seen ABBA : The Movie several times and that takes me back to those days of crazy childhood fandom.

Yes, I’m of the age where ABBA was a very important part of my childhood. In my house, we had a ‘dressing up box’ of old clothes, and one of the favourite things to do when friends came over was put on what must have been someone’s old nighties and sing along to ABBA Arrival. I distinctly remember a black nightie and a pale blue one with some kind of frills. My friends and I would put these on and play on my swings and sing ABBA songs.

“All the things I could dooooo if I had a little money…”

(I’ll point out here I always wanted to be Frida, and I usually won that argument, as it was my house my album my dress up box, except when playing with my friend and neighbour Kylie, who had long dark hair, and used that to get primary claim on the black nightie to be Frida. I was always a little disappointed when I had to be Agnetha.)

I wasn’t good at understanding lyrics when I was young. I would sing what I thought I heard. For many years I was singing “you’re in the new sedan” instead of “you’re in the mood for a dance” in Dancing Queen. Eventually someone pointed out my incorrectitude (after all the album did have a lyric sheet with it – why hadn’t I seen that before?)

But there will soon be a new album, and a concert, of sorts, using “abba-tars”. They have filmed today’s ABBA with motion capture and recreated them as they looked in 1979. It’s a nice idea, but I’m conscious that this motion capture has been done with 70-something ABBA and with the best will in the world they will not move like 30-something ABBA would have.

On Tour With ABBA | Abba concert, Abba, Music photo
I’m not sure the ABBA-tars will move like this.

I’m in two minds about going. Although I probably will go. They are building a purpose built ABBA stadium in the London Olympic Park for heaven’s sake! And I think I owe it to my seven-year-old self with her battered copy of Arrival to go.

Running shoes ran out My final pair of trainers/sneakers died on me in Madeira (they already had some holes but then the soles started to fall off on our last walk so they did not come back with me). This means I have not been able to do any running since I got back from holiday (see me weeping! no, not really) until I could get to the shops and get some new running shoes, which I did on Saturday. Of course it’s one thing to buy shoes it’s quite another thing to actually leave the house and do circuits of the park at speed. But the days are ticking down to the Ben Nevis climb and I’m increasingly anxious about my fitness level for the ascent. Especially as the weather forecast for Fort William shows rain every day for the next 10 days. I need to get some rain proof over trousers! I need to find out which one of my waterproof coats is the most waterproof!

Australian Wildlife in London Husband and I were out walking on the weekend. We planned to go somewhere that would take us 90 minutes by public transport or 165 minutes walking and I said, “I need the practice, let’s walk.” The first hour was fine, walking by the canal, but then we turned off the canal and the rest of the walk was through really boring suburbs so around the two hour mark we searched out a bus to take us where we needed to go. The most interesting part of this walk was coming out of the canal path and onto a main road, when we passed a field in which we saw two emus.

What these Australian birds are doing in Enfield on the outskirts of London I have no idea. These aren’t the only Australian animals out and about in the UK, as this story about the wallabies of Essex will reveal.

I hope you see something pleasantly unexpected this week.

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