Knitted by that witty little knitter Doctor Martin, I could not resist trying on his replica of the scarf worn by the Doctor in the final season of Tom Bakers tenure in The Tardis. Oh my giddy aunt, it was only as I typed this I realised it was the scarf my hero died in. Sort off....
He finally made it to Belfast, after two pandemic cancelations, rather posponements I should say, including a dose of the virus itself. And what a great night it turned out to be. Hosted by Paul Mc Veigh who knew how tease out some rivetting tales of the city from the man himself. The affection the audience had for Armistead was palpable. There was indeed a lot of love in the air. To be honest it was almost surreal to be sitting a few feet away from an author who's work was so formative for myself and a few others I have known. Not just for his beloved cast of characters from Barbary Lane but for always magical and memorable stand alone novels that explore the humane diaspora in witty and compelling ways. He is one of those born word smiths who can make you laugh and cry in the space of a single sentence. He really drew out a fantastic audience and a gay old time was had by all. A really gay old time. XOX.
It was such a lovely piece of work I could not resist giving it some visual context. Even after all these years people remember that scarf. And the person who wore it. let us not forget Begonia Pope who originally knitted the first scarf. Now she really was a Witty, Little, knitter.
This is the third book I have read by Michelle Paver and I continue to be impressed by her ability to generate feelings of uneasy and the presence of the weird. I some respects she reminds me of MR James skills as a storyteller in that she witholds as much as she reveals, allowing the reader to unveil the unseen. it requires a degree of narrative deconstruction as much as building to generate suspicion of the unreliable narration she sometimes uses to complete the fondations for a yarn. You can find yourself embedded in a given narrative wondering if you can trust the stated perceptions of the storyteller. Its good stuff and especially useful when telling a story set in remote locations or in atypical surroundings. She really understands the desire that some people reserve for life in extremis. Be it a lonely island out post, a high mountain range or a remote mysterious fenland. Period dramas prove especially fertile ground for such notions. Modern notions of faux-progressivism can bog a story teller, projecting into the past post modern sensibilities.
The story is set in Suffolk, at a rambling pile of a house with family and servants; Wakes End. it is close to a village valled waykenhyrst but closer still to a mysterious and sprawling fenlans. The atmosphere generated by the fens permeates the house, its sights and sounds a part of the everyday lifefor those who coexist there. Guthlaf's Fen has a history all its own, steeped in folklore and superstition, it winds and twists, like an organic presence and just like the narrative which attempts to explain it, it conceals more than it reveals.
Speaking of revelations; An ancient painting is recovered from the Fen, first appearing to the owner of Wakes End as a demonic eye peering at him through some reeds and rushes.This turns out to be a painting on some ancient wood and with its recovery ancient forces are seemingly unleashed into the lives of those who live at Wakes End. This painting. The Doom, lets loose something in the mind of Wakes End's owner Edmund Sterne , a historian, scholar and father. It is a mind which quite quickly begins to unravel. If you have not read any Michelle Paver and are wondering why you should imagine a worthy successor to The Woman In Black. Tales set in remote locations with uncompromising dark forces and you may imagine what you are in for.
Doctor Woof acting as scientific advisor to UNIT, with Sarah Jane Smith and UNIT trooper Alexander. Acting on information that a possible Auton incursion was about to take place with them posing as crisp bags in order to invegal their way into unsuspecting victim's homes.
Another good reason to avoid three for twos, I imagine.