November 12th, 2004


Remembrance Day

My grandfather was born in 1880, the seventh of nine sons, four of whom lived long enough to serve in the first world war, and all four survived it (though one of them by less than a year). Last summer I found a letter he'd written an old friend, presumably his former regimental chaplain, from the Holy Land in January 1918, when he would have been 37, the same age that I am now. (I never met him; he dropped dead at Mass one day in 1949, his 20-year-old son standing beside him.)

It's the sort of letter you would expect of an Irish Catholic who was also a British lieutenant-colonel, who had survived Gallipoli and (much earlier) the Boer War, and who went on to run a rubber plantation in Malaya before retiring to impoverished gentility in Northern Ireland. I don't agree with a number of the sentiments expressed; but I think it's appropriate at this time of year to Collapse )


November Books 6) The Summer Book

6) The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson

I have been a fan of Tove Jansson's Moomin books for as long as I can remember being able to read, an enthusiasm which once contributed to a minor diplomatic embarrassment. This, however, is one of her novels for adults. Though to say it's a novel is perhaps stretching it a bit; it's more a series of vignettes about the relationship between Sophia, whose age is never made clear but is I guess between seven and eleven, and her grandmother, living on one of the islands in the Gulf of Finland with Sophia's father (her mother is dead). The island and its neighbourhood are described with fascinating accuracy; so too are Sophia and her grandmother - no romanticised, misty-eyed view here of either childhood or old age. A beautiful book.

To the Ardennes

Little overnight trip with Anne, F and U (B in her respite care place).

The Euro Space Centre has a great playground but is as yet a little advanced for F. We'll come back when he's eight or thereabouts.

Stayed at the nice family-friendly Hotel de Luxembourg in St Hubert.

Went this morning through the fog to Bouillon Castle. Absolutely superb, with birds of prey (real) on display.

Back home by way of Redu, Belgium's answer to Hay on Wye.

Right, enough computing for now.