Let’s Try It Again… 2020 Recap

Okay, so the previous post was stupid. Let me do it again, better.

In terms of my photography, overwhelming majority of pictures taken in 2020 were with my smartphone and always in my area. This is the first time since 2016 that I haven’t made any trip outside Manchester. None of this mattered, in the end, as I took the best picture in my life with my phone a street away from my home!

Squirrel in Heaton Park, from September

The year started with storms, I remember there were two or three and they always happened at the weekend, so that that was no going anywhere for me. After that–well, you know. At first it was, need toilet paper? Pasta? Bad luck, mate.

It seems incredible now, but I did go to a concert this year. As in, a live performance by a singer. It was Halsey in Manchester Arena and it was back in March, before the first lockdown. Probably wasn’t very responsible, but hey, nothing happened.

My most streamed song of 2020 was the suitably titled Doom Days by Bastille (my inspiration for the short story The Journal). I also listened to the two albums Taylor Swift released this year, Folklore and Evermore.

It will be a while before live shows are back again. I also had a ticket for Phantom of the Opera, which was supposed to run for two months in Manchester, but like everything else, it was cancelled. Arts have really suffered with this and it’s not like the government cares; instead of supporting them they tell people in the industry to retrain. But don’t touch sports, oh no, not our precious sports, and even more precious football. Heavens help you if you anyhow endanger our football and our obscenely-paid footballers!

So what was I saying, oh yes, the annual recap… this year we were all staying at home and our new best friend was the streaming services. I remember that Disney+ launched here in UK just at the right time for lockdown.

Linda watches Star Wars

One of the TV shows that got much praise this year was Mandalorian. I’ve not watched it (yet), I’m not in the Star Wars fandom (they do have the hottest Latin actors though, Oscar Isaac and Pedro Pascal), however as I got myself a 12-month Disney+ subscription, I did watch the new trilogy and Rogue One. I liked Rogue One best, fabulous movie and might be one of my very favourites. As for the new trilogy, well, my first thought when I woke up the next day after seeing The Rise of Skywalker was: this should have been Finn’s story. John Boyega was right.

Star Trek premiered the Picard series and now we’re on Season 3 of Discovery, which has so far been the best. I thought the tone of Picard was a bit off, as if the writers were anxious (they probably were), but this can be easily overcome in future seasons.

This was also the first year in however-long that we had no Marvel movie released. We’ve been waiting for that Black Widow forever! But it’s good to have a bit of a break and hey, there’s still time to get into it, folks, if you haven’t done so!

Being at home and doodling

I doodle sometimes, I have almost filled my little A6 sketchbook. I once had a phase where I was drawing castles, and it seems I’m back in that phase again.

Tragically, I’ve not done as much reading as I should have done. I picked up The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and it took me three whole months to get through it. Such a slog, also the title is a lie–she doesn’t really steal books. Spoiler, I guess, but who cares. It tries to be interesting by having Death as a narrator but it reads just like any other third-person limited POV, with a “I collected their souls” inserted here and there to keep up the appearance. I swear I’ll never read Holocaust fiction ever again. I’d rather watch a good documentary about it.

But on the other hand I rediscovered my love for Sherlock Holmes and even dedicated a post to the famous detective, which at 2600 words is my longest.

Another thing that happened in Manchester was, the big concrete wall in Piccadilly Gardens was torn down. There is still a concrete wall, but that can’t be torn down because there is a coffee shop and a restaurant on the side of it. People hate them, I know they’re ugly, but for the purposes of my Gloomscapes series, I don’t mind a bit of brutalism. I’ve seen articles online calling the wall “Manchester’s Berlin Wall” and I’m like, can you just not. Nobody is getting shot crossing from Portland Street to Primark! Please. If there is criminal activity or drugs going on in Piccadilly Gardnes, that’s hardly the fault of the wall.

I end with one of my typical phone shot of something random or weird, Sam Call Me written by chalk on the gate to my local park. Well, there is a certain Sam that is close to my heart, so you can say that the picture is not as random as it would appear on first sight. I mean, not in real life, it’s the actor Sam Claflin, lol.

And that, my friends, concludes my second 2020 recap post.

Midwinter Still Life

This is my little contribution to this year’s midwinter. Midwinter Murder is a collection of short stories by Agatha Christie that all share a winter theme. They’ve all been published before in other collections (obviously, they’re not new, with Agatha being dead for some decades). Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple both appear. As you can see, the book is without a doubt beautiful:

Although I should confess–these photographs were taken in autumn, at the same time as the ones in my Sherlock Holmes post. You can see the similarity.

Top picture was taken by my Canon DSLR, the other three with my smartphone.

Alone But Not Lonely

See this bench in the grove?

I think it would go well with this quote from LM Montgomery book Emily’s Quest.

I was alone but not lonely. I was a queen in halls of fancy. I held a series of conversations with imaginary comrades and thought out so many epigrams that I was agreeably surprised at myself.

Remind you of something? Yes, LMM used this almost exact quote in in Anne of Windy Poplars. Windy Poplars was released in 1936 and Emily’s Quest in 1927, so Emily’s quote came earlier. (Note: Anne of Windy Poplars and Anne of Ingleside were written much later than the rest of Anne books.)

Compare the two books, though. Emily books are much darker than Anne books (there is also altogether more darkness in Montgomery’s work than people realise, but that’s another topic). Windy Poplars covers the three years in Anne’s life when she teaches school at Summerside, while Gilbert is working towards his medical degree. Large chunk of the book is comprised of her letters to Gilbert and that line is from one of them. They are apart for now, but they write to each other and look forward to the time they finally get married and start their life together. So, all is good. Emily’s Quest, on the other hand, is quite a different story. While her friends leave home to pursue their dreams, Emily stays and tries to become a writer. She and her love interest, Teddy, can’t seem to get together because they have communication issues. Emily gets ill, suffers from, what we call now, depression, agrees to marry a man she doesn’t love, and it takes years for her to finally find the happiness she deserves. It’s–bleak. Definitely not one for the children’s books section. Or even Young Adult section. Like one reviewer on Goodreads put it “Montgomery’s work is constantly under-estimated, and the way the books are marketed doesn’t help (the flowery script, the swoony illustrations).” I’ve been saying that for years.

Anne and Emily are both orphans with different journeys, but I think both of them would have loved that little bench under the trees.

Ducks Again – With Good Omens References

Time has come for another duck post, this time with references from the TV show Good Omens. It’s now been one year since it premiered on Amazon Prime. The basic summary of the show (adapted from the book of the same name written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman) is: Armageddon is coming and angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and demon Crowley (David Tennant) team up to prevent it so that they can save the Earth. What has this got to do with ducks, you ask?

Well this. Apart from it being absolutely hilarious series, it mentions ducks four times–in only six episodes.

Watch our for a spoiler ahead.

In Episode 1, we are told by God (voiced by Frances McDormand) that the best place for clandestine meetings in London is St James’s Park and the ducks there are used to being fed by secret agents.

In Episode 2, Crowley has this line of dialogue: “suspicions slide of him like…” and stops as he can’t remember what they slide like, then, later in that same episode it comes to him: “water off a duck’s back!”

I told you ducks don’t even need a lake – any puddle of water will do!

In Episode 3, Crowley and Aziraphale meet in St James’s Park, in the Victorian era (as we follow them throughout history), Aziraphale feeds the ducks and Crowley says: “Ducks have ears.”

*spoiler ahead*

And finally, in the final episode, we see Crowley (who is actually Aziraphale in Crowley’s body) get a bath of holy water and he says this: “I don’t suppose that anywhere in the nine circles of hell there’s such a thing a a rubber duck?”

*end of spoiler*

And that’s it. I just find it interesting that there are only two episodes that have no mention of a duck. Maybe the writers agree with me that ducks are indeed awesome.

Bonus

The yellow one is my pencil sharpener that I brought from work when I started homeworking. The other one I bought at Waterstones; they’ve got more of these mini model animals, I think it’s for some farm collection for children. Or something, I don’t know.

Daisies May 2020

I feel like, throughout the whole existence of this blog, I have never given daisies the justice they deserve. So while going out for walks during this pandemic, I’ve been keeping my eye out for daisies. My local park had just what I was after.

Pictures taken with my smartphone, again, as my camera has been untouched for majority of this spring, because what’s the point…

The five of them were so together, away from the rest of those on the above three photos, that it made me think: okay, so they’re either five members of a girlband or the five Bennett sisters from Pride and Prejudice.

Stay At Home

When I did my Gloomscapes series two years ago, I never imagined we would soon be in the midst of our own dystopia. I expected some things, of course, with Brexit and Trump and the wave of right-wingery on one side and climate change on the other, but I never expected a pandemic. And now here we are.

Following the advice of staying at home and social distancing is for me, pretty much, just living my life as I do. I stay indoors and don’t go anywhere anyway, unless I take a trip for my photography and I don’t socialise. So I thought I would post some currently appropriate shots of my home. I put no quality in these, I basically just snapped them and uploaded to my computer.

I’m very much about Kindle books, as I blogged about before, so these physical books are from the time before eBooks started or titles that are not available in digital format. I’ve got some Game of Thrones characters figures, funko pops of Captain Marvel and Black Widow, a tiny model space shuttle and cats!

This is an older photo, as you can see more effort was put in it. This pile represents so many of my interests: Anne of Green Gables, Agatha Christie, history, maps, Star Trek, A Song of Ice and Fire and Sherlock Holmes!

Jaime Lannister with a catapult pencil sharpener from Chester and a tiny globe. The doll with the red braids is, of course, Anne Shirley.

The dog is called Snoopy and I’ve had him since 2003. Obviously I’m a cat person but Snoppy is special.

I’ve posted some of my Polaroids before, here they are again.

International Women’s Day 2020

Like last year, I am doing a mixed content post.

The Photograph

I tried to imitate the Rosie the Riveter poster using my Captain Marvel doll and a yellow card paper.

TV Quotes

Chrisjen Avasarala from The Expanse, responding to mansplainers:

Or you can have the pure female rage from the Game of Thrones:

What of my wrath, Lord Stark?

Cersei Lannister

The Book

It’s really a short story: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Based on author’s real life experience, it’s a tale of a woman, who is after the birth of her baby taken by her husband to a countryside mansion for a prescribed “rest cure”. He doesn’t let her do anything, as she must only rest and she is slowly driven insane by the yellow wallpaper on the walls of her room. I call it the Madwoman in the Attic Origin Story and it’s available for free on Gutenberg here.

The Music

Lizzo’s album Cuz I Love You – enjoy!

A Love Letter

As I say every year, Valentine’s Day is nothing to me. I chose singledom. But it can’t be denied that it offers very aesthetically pleasing opportunities for photography. Or art in general. And stories and poems and songs and important essays about relationships–it’s certainly good for creativity. For better or worse.

You can always be your own valentine if there’s no one else. At least then you don’t have to share any chocolate.

Love yourself.

Foggy

I saw fog descended so I quickly grabbed my camera to take a few shots from the window, before it got too dark.

I wished I was somewhere more romantic, like Manchester is great and all, but if you can’t capture a fog on the edge of the woods or around a haunted castle, what are you even doing with a fog?

I also happened to be watching the 2011 version of Wuthering Heights, make of it what you will. Beautiful visually but not heavy on dialogue.