Indoors

So I did find Anne of Green Gables in print… and it’s pink

I’ve never seen Anne of Green Gables series in printed format, she said.

She was looking in the wrong section.

The other day I was in Waterstones, an incredibly wonderful UK bookstore, which also sells stationery and other cool silly stuff. While I was paying at the till, for one reason or another (I don’t know where I get the urge to talk to people these days, I never used to be like that), I asked the checkout guy if they ever had Anne of Green Gables in stock. He searched the database and confirmed they did have it–in the children’s 9-12 years section.

You know how much Anne means to me. So yesterday when I was in Waterstones again, I went to check the said section and indeed, there it was. I picked the hardback, because when it comes to physical books, I prefer them to paperbacks.

This is the treasure.

Actually… a few days before I bought it, I was in Paperchase (a mega cool stationery shop) just browsing around and I saw this same edition. They don’t normally sell books, so I thought it was some hipster thing and didn’t pick it up and open it. So when I saw it at Waterstones, I was like, OMG it’s real!

Can I just say… okay, I know nothing about sorting of the books, but it doesn’t seem right to me to have the Anne series in the children’s section. Little Women is always with the classics, yet has a similar theme. Anne is also far more fun, far less patronising, has better characters and the right people end up coupled at the end; as opposed to wrong people marrying the wrong people in Little Women. Maybe I shouldn’t be bothered about it, because after all, there is nothing wrong with children’s books, but why can’t it be in both sections at once? I spent ages desperately looking for Anne when I came to UK, in libraries and bookshops. When I couldn’t find any LM Montgomery books here, I concluded that she wasn’t as popular here as in Slovakia (where her books certainly aren’t in the children’s section). I know you think I could have just asked the staff in library or a bookshop, but well, I didn’t. I have social anxiety for one and I hate asking for help and then, I used to feel stupid about liking certain things. Like, nobody cared about Anne anymore after they’d finished all the books and I was the only one who did. Also, I could not have been sure what the book was called in English. Green Gables is translated into “green house” in my language. I don’t think we even have a word for “gable”, Anne’s room in east gable is translated as “east attic room”. Different countries, different architecture styles.

For the inside the book shot, I chose this unforgettable chapter, in which Anne and her friends Diana, Jane and Ruby decide to play out Elaine (I believe it’s the poem The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Tennyson) in real life and Anne nearly drowns in a pond. After this, she makes a sensible decision to not be romantic again. “It was probably easy enough in towered Camelot hundreds of years ago, but romance is not appreciated now,” she says to Marilla. This however saddens Matthew and he tells her:

Don’t give up all your romance, Anne. A little of it is a good thing–not too much, of course–but keep a little of it, Anne, keep a little of it.

Dear, dear Matthew Cuthbert. We need more like him.

Outdoors

Forget-me-nots

I went for a walk on Easter Monday afternoon and came back with some nice pics. Like this one. I liked it so much I wanted to share it with you.

They were growing from the crack between someone’s house and the pavement. You don’t always have to travel miles away to gardens or woods to get some nice flora shots. I often joke that while other bloggers post about their amazing adventures in far-away, exciting places, I take pictures of trees from my window.

But then, why not? What if you can find beauty in the same space you live and work every day?

Indoors, Miscellaneous

Agatha Christie

This is the post that was always meant to be. I have never specially planned it but I was always conscious of its existence outside Some Photoblog’s space-time continuum. Now, the time has come to publish it.

World, welcome to my most favourite author ever.

Some call her the Queen of Crime and even if you’ve never read any of her books, you know who she is.

I have mentioned Agatha Christie once or twice on this blog, most notably in the Yggdrasil entry, but never made a post about her. I’ve blogged more about LM Montgomery, who is my second most favourite author (sorry LM!) That’s understandable; when you photograph nature it’s easier to quote Montgomery, as anyone who ever read even one of her books will know, because of those beautiful descriptions.

I got into Agatha Christie sometime in my mid-teens; my first book was Murder of Roger Ackroyd, an Hercule Poirot mystery, which also happens to be one of the best. It could hardly have been a better start. But her best selling (and indeed the best selling mystery novel of all) is And Then There Were None. I think all of us who have read And Then There Were None can agree that this is absolutely justified.

(Yes, it’s the-one-that-one-that-used-to-have-that-racist-title, but this was taken from a children’s rhyme, which is not Agatha’s creation. In newer editions, the racial slur in the rhyme is replaced with “soldier”.)

Hercule Poirot, the private detective from Belgium and Miss Marple, an old lady who has lived all of her life in a little village of St Mary Mead are Agatha Christie’s most famous characters. But she’s much more than that. There are Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, the couple that first appear in The Secret Adversary as young adventurers and who unlike Poirot and Marple actually get older with each subsequent book. Then we have short stories featuring Mr Parker Pyne, who is an unusual type of detective, if he can be called that. Are you happy? If not, consult Mr Parker Pyne, runs his advertisement in the newspaper. His speciality appears to be the matters of heart (as in, love, not heart surgery). And then there is the most mysterious character Agatha ever created, Mr Harley Quin (not to be confused with Harley Quinn, the DC comics character). He appears and disappears again just at the right time, with no explanation, and we never get to find out anything about him. The short stories featuring him are written from the point of view of Mr Satterthwaite, a middle aged socialite, who–not in a malicious way–enjoys other people’s drama. Harley Quin short stories have this spooky atmosphere, almost touching on supernatural.

Apart from the above, Agatha Christie’s work includes numerous mystery novels without any regular detective; a few with Superintendent Battle, who also appeared alongside Poirot in Cards on the Table. And so on and so on.

I don’t know how many people are aware of the fact that she didn’t just write mystery/crime fiction. She wrote six novels under the name Mary Westmacott. I’ve seen them boxed under “romantic novel” genre, though I’m unsure how correct this would be. I’ve only read Giant’s Bread so far and I would not classed it as romance/romantic fiction. I’m not that good at labelling things, but if Giant’s Bread got a movie adaptation, I’d call it drama or period drama.

And that’s not all. She was also a playwright. The Mousetrap is the longest running play in UK. I have seen it performed here in Manchester on their 60th anniversary tour. (As you can see from the top picture, I kept the ticket, for all of six and a half years!)

What’s interesting also is that, though she wrote a few plays and even turned her own books into plays (e.g. there is a stage version of And Then There Were None with a different ending; Witness for the Prosecution was a short story before it was a play), her stories are still adapted for stage by other writers. For example, Love from a Stranger is a play based on the short story Philomel Cottage. You can find Philomel Cottage in the Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories collection (maybe in other collections too) or on its own in digital format. It’s a tense story about a newly married woman experiencing sudden anxiety, which she cannot identify. I like to think of it as a predecessor to modern domestic thrillers, though it’s probably not, because I can’t imagine many people/writers know of it. But it has exactly the same feel. I went to see Love from a Stranger last year in July.

Speaking of adaptations, it would be an unpardonable crime not to mention this guy.

David Suchet played Poirot on screen for 24 years and will probably always be the best, the most ultimate Poirot of all time. Not that other actors shouldn’t play him or that they won’t be good as good Poirots; I mean that no one will be the truer Poirot as Suchet. He is so much associated with the little Belgian detective that he wrote a book about it!

Currently he is played by Kenneth Branagh, who has done Murder on the Orient Express and is preparing Death on the Nile next. Branagh’s Poirot is more of a 21st century hero, with a more diverse cast. And that moustache is a legend!

I relate to Poirot in a way that he’s a Continental European living in England and people keep getting his nationality wrong.

My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world.

hercule poirot, the mystery of the blue train

The impossible cannot have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.

Hercule poirot, murder on the orient express

Human nature is much the same everywhere and, of course, one has opportunities of observing it at close quarters in a village.

miss marple, the thumb mark of st peters (short story)

This above quote is the most typical of Miss Marple. She usually cracks the mystery because someone reminds her of someone else. I think in this way, her village serves as a microcosm of the world. She observes life closely, which then helps her solve crimes that baffle even experienced Scotland Yard officers.

Some of my collection:

In fact most of the physical books I own are Agatha Christies. I bought them before eBooks were a thing.

So, as you can see, I’m an Agatha Christie fan. I know she’s not literally acclaimed–some male author apparently wrote an essay titled Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd? (who cares about you, more like)–but so what. There is nothing like curling up with a blanket, nice cup of hot drink and a good old fashioned mystery. Does not mean you can’t appreciate Shakespeare as well. Actually Agatha quotes Shakespeare sometimes–the novel Taken at the Flood is titled after a line in Julius Caesar. And I want to add another thing, the thing I think about often and which appears in her books quite a lot and is my favourite element of her entire work.

Whenever there is a crime committed, the perpetrator must be found. But the most important thing is not to punish the perpetrator. It’s to clear the people that didn’t do it. I first came across this in Miss Marple short story The Four Suspects. Miss Marple and her companions discuss an unsolved case presented to them by Sir Henry Clithering, a retired Scotland Yard Commissioner. Miss Marple, as is her fashion, comes to the correct conclusion without much trouble. Sir Henry is outraged by the fact that the guilty party got away with it, but Miss Marple points out that it was not the case–the murderer got in with such a bad lot that their end will be inevitable. But she urges Sir Henry to let the other parties know that they’re innocent. Well, she means particularly one party, the one she believes would suffer most from having that suspicion hanging over their head.

One mustn’t waste thought on the guilty–it’s the innocent who matter.

miss marple, the four suspects (short story)

This is also the whole premise of Ordeal by Innocence. Dr Calgary approaches a family saying that he can provide an alibi for their son who got charged with murder. It’s too late for the son, who died in prison but he thinks he can at least clear his name. But this causes distress to the family–if it wasn’t him, then who was it? And immediately they start suspecting each other again and their nightmare is back. Dr Calgary then decides to find the culprit–which he does in the end.

It’s not the guilty who matter. It’s the innocent. It’s we who matter. Don’t you see what you’ve done to us all?

Hester, ordeal by innocence

And that is why Ordeal by Innocence is such a good book and a rare late one. (To be perfectly honest, the later works of Agatha Christie as not as good, though there are still some gems.) It is also why the latest adaptation on BBC got it so wrong. It’s not so much that they changed the murderer, it’s that they completely misunderstood the story. You can change a lot of things in an adaptation and still keep the spirit of the book. Remember what I said about the new Netflix Anne of Green Gables series , Anne with an E? It differs from the books a lot, adds new characters and plots, but it still keeps the same spirit. The same aesthetics. All the characters are what they are in the books; Anne, the Cuthberts, Diana, Gilbert, Mrs Lynde. The setting, which is crucial, is still the same Prince Edward Island. Sure, it’s dark, but it’s not like that darkness was completely made up by the screenwriter. It was always there, between the lines. The screenwriters knew their stuff. Kenneth Baranagh also knew his stuff when he made the Murder on the Orient Express. Unfortunately the BBC adaptations do not know their stuff. Not. At. All. The last two made me so angry I will not watch them again.

I will end with a quote from the epilogue of Agatha’s autobiography.

I have done what I wanted to do. I have been on a journey. Not so much a journey back through the past, as a journey forward–starting again at the beginning of it all–going back to the Me who was to embark on that journey forward through time. I have not been bounded by time or space. I have been able to linger where I wanted, jump backwards and forwards as I wished.

Ooh she really does float outside the space-time continuum!

Over to you now, readers. Any Agatha Christie fans? Any of you have blogged about her? Come and tell!

Miscellaneous

Throwback – Polaroid 2004

I keep this photograph among my important possessions.

I’ve never personally used an instant camera–never even held one in my hand. The shot is from an event in my home town of Bratislava, organised by Kia, the car manufacturers, when they opened their first plant in Slovakia.

It was in one of the squares in city centre, where they set up a stage for traditional Korean performances (I remember we watched some cool drummers). Among the promotional material they were giving away, like key rings and stickers and bags, that sort of stuff, I don’t really recall exactly, they did Polaroid shots for people.

As you can observe, there is a Kia car in the picture and those two people in front of it are myself and my younger brother! I was 23 and he was 12. I had already left for UK by then, but was back for a visit.

So, the year was 2004. An interesting year, because that was when Slovakia (with 9 other countries) joined the EU. Here in UK, you bet they had a lot to say about that and not in a good way. But on one news program they also said that with Kia now establishing themselves in Slovakia, potential other car manufacturers will follow and the country might one day become a second Detroit. Amazingly, to this day, it was the only positive thing I heard about my country on British TV ever. Now fifteen years later, we have Brexit and car manufacturers are leaving Britain.

And that thing with second Detroit became true.

Obviously I wasn’t the one who took this pic, but I was the one who took the pic of the pic, so is it my pic or is it not my pic?

Indoors

Anne of Green Gables Photoshoot

If you’ve ever visited my blog, you might have noticed that I’m a fan of Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery. So it only made sense to dedicate a little photoshoot to the red-headed orphan that lived on Prince Edward Island.

I don’t own any of the books in physical format. As I said in my Kindle eBooks post, I have never seen them in print and downloaded them all from Gutenberg. (All of LM Montgomery’s work is in public domain, apart from The Blythes Are Quoted, which was released quite recenly–and which I very much recommend, it will surprise you!)

Well, apart from this very old falling-apart paperback copy that I found in a charity shop.

So for the photoshoot I used the doll of Anne that I got from Etsy and the book Anne of Green Gables Treasury by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Eriksson.

This book is such a delight! It is sort of a companion to the Anne books with lovely illustrations. It describes things from Anne’s time, such as tea parties, handwork, fashion and gardening, plus the timeline. I found out about the book thanks to Pinterest–someone pinned the cover image from a blog post of a reviewer. (Don’t ever tell me Pinterest isn’t useful.)

It wasn’t until I started thinking about it many years later that I realised what a great heroine Anne is. She constantly works to improve herself, she’s a good student and is always there for her friends. Despite being mistreated as an orphaned child, she remains kind (this she has in common with other popular fictional heroes, Jane Eyre and Harry Potter). She finds joy in everything around her and of course, has that famous unbeatable imagination. And not only does she find love with Marilla and Matthew, they learn from her too.

The adaptation with Megan Follows is a classic, but there is a new series on Netflix that started in 2017. I know not everyone likes that one, because it’s so dark, but in my opinion they got it exactly right. If you think about it, there is a lot of darkness in Montgomery’s work. See this excerpt from Anne of Green Gables Chapter 5Anne’s History, in which Anne narrates to Marilla how she was taken in by Mrs Thomas after the deaths of her parents and later lived with Mrs Hammond:

“Were those women—Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Hammond—good to you?” asked Marilla, looking at Anne out of the corner of her eye.

“O-o-o-h,” faltered Anne. Her sensitive little face suddenly flushed scarlet and embarrassment sat on her brow. “Oh, they meant to be—I know they meant to be just as good and kind as possible. And when people mean to be good to you, you don’t mind very much when they’re not quite—always. They had a good deal to worry them, you know. It’s a very trying to have a drunken husband, you see; and it must be very trying to have twins three times in succession, don’t you think? But I feel sure they meant to be good to me.”

Marilla asked no more questions. Anne gave herself up to a silent rapture over the shore road and Marilla guided the sorrel abstractedly while she pondered deeply. Pity was suddenly stirring in her heart for the child. What a starved, unloved life she had had—a life of drudgery and poverty and neglect; for Marilla was shrewd enough to read between the lines of Anne’s history and divine the truth. No wonder she had been so delighted at the prospect of a real home. It was a pity she had to be sent back. What if she, Marilla, should indulge Matthew’s unaccountable whim and let her stay? He was set on it; and the child seemed a nice, teachable little thing.

In other words, it seems that some kind of child abuse happened. And that is just one example. At the end of Anne of Green Gables, Matthews dies and all their money is lost in a bank crash. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Not to mention people dying from tuberculosis and similar. And not many opportunities for women either.

I read about Lucy Maud’s life and apparently her husband suffered from mental illness and she wasn’t always that well herself. She had a child that was stillborn. I think the showrunners got the look and feel right. And because it’s the current year, they threw in extra LGBT representation and a bit of colour. (Though from what I read, it appears that Prince Edward Island really is that Scottish and that Presbyterian.) Also, the acting is absolute top and the series is worth watching for the scenery alone.

Now, I feel bad for talking about Anne so much when I enjoyed almost everything else LM wrote. Emily of New Moon series is just as good as Anne but my favourite book is The Blue Castle. I wonder if we ever get an adaptation of that one, but I’m not optimistic. It’s a bit like with Arthur Conan Doyle, there has been so many Sherlock Holmeses that people don’t even realise he wrote other books. Sigh

There is something I have to mention when talking about Montgomery’s work, which I think is important. She was, to put it bluntly, kinda racist. There is a short story in Further Chronicles of Avonlea collection titled Tannis of the Flats and it’s awful. Not because of the story–the story is great–but the prejudice, oh dear. It concerns Native Americans and it’s just… bad. That’s all. Yes, I know she lived in a different time and all that, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be acknowledged. So there.

Dear old world, you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.

Miscellaneous

The Not Christmas Post

Yeah, I had to go there.

But at least I’m doing this on the 23rd, not on any of the Christmas days. Reality is… well, reality, even at this time of year.

So first of all, I had to make a Brexmas card, because of course.

brexmas card1

Open it!

brexmas card2

UK seems like it’s very sick and needs some good care. Just check this out.

uk not xmas card

It also looks like an England flag, which was not my intention–just a coincidence. Moving on to:

You know how the word snowflake has gained a completely different meaning to what it actually is. Used by people who can’t get over the fact that the world is changing to describe mostly liberals and/or socially conscious (aka woke) people. Snowflake? I give you snowflake.

snowflake card

Bonus – a not Christmas throwback

I found this anti-Christmas card I forgot I had among my Christmas drawings and cards (I have this thing I call the Christmas Book, where I’ve been drawing Christmas scenery and stuff since I was very young and in the last few years been saving cards in it, but that’s not what I want to talk about now). I should say I’m not the artist of this brilliant piece–it was done by a coworker. It’s from 2014 and I think it’s hilarious:

not xmas card

The point is, some people just hate Christmas, or can’t handle it. And that’s okay. It’s not an easy time for everyone, whether it’s for mental health issues, having lost a loved one or working in retail, you are all valid. One can also enjoy some aspects of Christmas and not the others. So maybe you like the food but are not thrilled about having to spend time with annoying relatives. I get that.

I have received shit from someone earlier this year when I said Santa Claus wasn’t real. I said it by mistake. (I think I meant to say something else but my communication skills are so poor I’m glad I can express myself on most days, also remember please that I’m not speaking my native language.) But as a result, I ended up hating that figure. Pass me those anti-Santa rockets, by all means.

Let’s just be good to each other, not just at Christmas, but all year round.

Unless you’re a bigot or a horrible person. Then you don’t deserve to be treated nice.

Merry Christmas.

Or not.

Outdoors

Blogging Or What?

Ooh, it’s looks like it’s been a while since I last posted. Though, in fairness, this time last year it was much dryer here.

Here is a picture that I named “The Autumn Days Of Yore”. I don’t know why exactly. It sounds nice, it was taken in autumn and it was in the past (like two weeks ago) and that is all the reasons I can come up with.

So, this is it:

daysofyore

Sooo, it’s November. Which means we’re closer to the end of the year, which is where I do that “where has the year gone?” thing.

So, really, where has the year gone?

Miscellaneous

Happy 3rd Blogoversary

Today marks three years since I started the blog.

I have had phases when I posted very little, but overall it turned out quite well.

The only reason why I hadn’t started blogging earlier was that I worried about running out of ideas–or indeed having ideas in the first place. It was when I came across the word “photoblog” somewhere that I was finally confident to set up one. Because I could just post pictures and nothing more and I had lots of pictures. I have since bought a new camera and got my own domain. And did a dystopian series.

Here’s today’s picture, taken yesterday:

september berries

I still worry about running out of ideas, I admit. I want to know, how do other bloggers feel? What made you start your blog and what about the blogging process do you find is the hardest?

Animals

Ducks Are Awesome

Ducks are awesome.

Let me tell you.

ducks r awesome3

ducks r awesome1

I have posted ducks before, as part of one of Cee’s challenges. In the linked entry, I mentioned a Tumblr post that went something like this:

Humans from 150 years ago would be very confused if they suddenly found themselves in our time. Not so ducks. Ducks would be like, still have lakes? Okay.

Most of my duck pictures come from the same place–the little pond in the woodsy area of Heaton Park (which was hit by algae occupation on the day the above photos were taken–it’s not normally like that).

Apart from this pond, Heaton Park has a boating lake, but that one is usually inhabited by geese and swans. Geese can also be spotted in the canals of Manchester city centre, but they deserve their own post.

So, ducks. The first time I started appreciating these animals was when I went to Heaton Park sometime in October 2013. It remains a very memorable trip, as I narrowly escaped from getting soaked in a short, but very intense shower. Luckily there in the woodsy area, next to the pond where the ducks hang out, is a little shelter. You can see it on the below picture, on the left:

ducks r awesome2

So on this day, it started raining and I, being in its vicinity, quickly hid in the shelter. The little pond was full of ducks then, but were they bothered? Naah. They didn’t move a feather. Unlike me, a loser human who had to run from a bit of water.

ducks 1 – 0 me

See it here (this was shot with my old compact, hence the low quality, but you can see the raindrops falling in the water):

ducks unbothered
Rain, what rain?

That particular trip was a surreal experience, because it suddenly got very dark and I lost the network on my phone and for a while it seemed like I was the only person in the whole park, but that is a story for another day.

Water off a duck’s back.

~an old saying

Here they are sharing their pond with a heron.

ducks with heron

On this occasion I observed that ducks, when they land on the surface of the water, look like they’re surfing–and what’s cooler than that?

Now, check this one out:

duck in the city

I snapped this one with my phone on the way from work. I remember it was one of those freezing cold days we had at the end of March. The area in the middle of the picture is called Cathedral Gardens and far on the left side, not visible on the picture, is National Football Museum. The terracotta-ish coloured building on the right is Chetham School of Music. Behind me is Victoria Station. What’s a duck doing there? I thought that maybe it got lost; there’s an arm of a river not far from here, where I have seen ducks before, so I just thought it lost its way. People were smiling and laughing at the sight and the duck actually quacked as if to say, wot you lookin’ at? 

Then, not long ago, one evening I was coming back from the city centre where I was taking some pics and was passing Cathedral Gardens again, when I saw them:

ducks in fountain

There’s a fountain and that’s where the duck was going!

Of course, I should have known that a duck wouldn’t be so stupid.

I guess for ducks, any pool of water will do. Or, if you’re Joey and Chandler from Friends, a bath is fine.

Oh and rubber ducks. Rubber ducks just prove the awesomeness of ducks, because if ducks weren’t awesome, why would we be making toys of them? For kids to play with while they bath?

I also have a pencil sharpener at work shaped like a duck.

Being the boss of the canal.

duck swimming

Conclusion:

Ducks are awesome.

Bonus: a video of ducklings

So–how you feel about ducks? Love, hate, indifference? Do you like photographing ducks or other waterfowl? Share your thoughts in the comment box.

Miscellaneous

My Godson is a Cat

Yes, you read the title correctly. My godson is a cat.

If you think it’s too late for an April Fools’ joke, you are quite right. It is not the 1st of April and it is not a joke, because I’m serious. I also dislike April Fools’ tradition, I hate pranks and I find majority of jokes I hear desperately unfunny and lame. Now that’s out of the way, let me tell you about my godson Anthony and why he’s a cat.

godson

This boy is now between 18 months and 2 years old and is also a half-brother to the boy whose hand is in this picture. I thought it would be better to post a photo of him where his face is not visible, even though his parents gave me permission to post about him.

Why is Anthony a cat? Well, I came to this conclusion when I visited his home last Christmas Eve Eve.

  1. I brought some presents with me in a bag. When I put the bag on the coffee table in the living room, he immediately went to the bag to look inside and inspect the contents. Just like a cat.
  2. Then, with one sweep of his small arm, he knocked down everything from the said table. Just like a cat.
  3. He is very agile, easily climbs the furniture without falling down. Just like a cat.
  4. His mum went to do her cooking and instructed us not to let him into the kitchen, to prevent him getting burned but he insisted on going there anyway, even as I kept picking him up and carrying him back to the living room. Just like a cat.
  5. Following on from the previous point, he wanted to go into the kitchen because he was so nosy about what was going on there. Just like a cat.
  6. He knocked the Christmas tree down. Just like a cat.

Any further questions?

IMG_1728WHAT

Peace out.