Monday 27 January 2014

Book review: The Owl Service

9780006706939-uk Good? Yes. Read again? Probably not.

The Owl Service: a low fantasy novel for young adults by Alan Garner, published by Collins in 1967. Set in modern Wales, it is an adaptation of the story of the mythical Welsh woman Blodeuwedd, an "expression of the myth" in the author's words. Or so says wiki. The image I've inlined, from wiki1, is the cover of the copy I have.

I enjoyed it. Bits of it are genuinely creepy / scarey and well done; I found myself slightly reading ahead to make sure it was "all right". There's a bit of social comment thrown in too; or perhaps that's the purpose.

This book feels like its part of my childhood - or at least the title is - but I'm sure I've never read it. Because my interpretation of the title, as a book about, errrm, something like a secret society, or a postal-service-via-owls, is completely wrong: the "service" refers to merely a dinner service (I give little away there, because that's revealed in the first few pages).

The book I have is "An Armada Lion" and I think that confirms the "young adult", i.e. (I presume) teenager bit. That may explain the curious-in-context total absence of sex, or sexual tension, that would naturally be present: the three key players in the story are two teenage boys and a teenage girl, and yet nothing happens or comes even close to happening along conventional teenage lines. That seemed rather odd to me; in a strange way it works, because it makes the story retain a supernatural flavour.

I found the ending confusing or unsatisfactory, and having re-read the last few pages still didn't fully understand it. Don't read this bit if you don't want spoilers. Perhaps the Author couldn't quite work it out either. The problem is: in this turn of the legend, its going to end happily: flowers, not owls. That leaves, in a sense, Alison choosing sides. The "natural" side for her to choose would be Gwyn, because he's the low-caste clever engaging character who deserves to succeed. But at the end she is unconcious; she doesn't choose; instead, Gwyn chooses by doing nothing / retaining his hate; and Roger chooses by not retaining hate. But apart from that, Roger is fairly unappealling, and his late sympathy for Gywn / Huw jars; Alison's rather forced choosing of her tennis club reads more like an author's convenience that in-character, as does Gwyn's retention of his hate.


1. Well it was wiki's, but wiki has now swapped to a different one and deleted the old one, I hate it when they do that. So it is now one from Abebooks. It is still the same pic, the on of my copy.

Sunday 26 January 2014

The Good Crocodile

A story by Daniel, with some help from teacher and friends, some time early - perhaps even in pre-school.


Once upon a time there was a nasty sea witch.


She sent the crocodile to go and bite the Pirates.


The pirates couldn't walk because they had no legs.


The sea witch gave the crocodile a treat.


(rear cover)


(apologies for the slightly rubbish quality of some of the pictures. But I thought just for once I'd get it done, rather than agonise about details)

Sunday 19 January 2014

A trip to the Cairngorms, 1996

Clearing up or heap of post and related stuff, I found the picture Howard Roscoe sent me back when he was clearing out his office last year. See-also the trip in 2013. Anyway, here's the pic. Its a digital photograph of a colour photocopy of a photomontage that Howard made, so if any details survive its doing well. Top Right and bottom left is Me; top left and center is Howard. Middle top is in the Shelter Stone, just below that is at the top of the Aviemore ski lifts, Debbie Fish is holding the map. Anyone who can identify the rest, please comment. DSC_3263-cairngorms-1996

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Exercise stats, 2013

According to heiaheia, in 2013 I

* rowed 113 times, for a total of 1162 km (2012: 1297; 2011: 1280)
* ran 85 times, total 1095 km (2012: 879; 2011: 1155)
* cycled 50 times, total 3182 km (I amalgamate each week's commuting into one entry)
* erged 13 times, total 113 km (feeble; this wasn't a year for erging. 2012: 238; 2011: 381).

There are also entries for climbing and gardening and stuff.