Saturday 28 June 2014

Thriller detective and police procedural novels seem to proliferate, along with television programmes in the same genre. It seems I can't turn on the tv guide or look into a bookshop window without seeing that the latest best seller or best watched is a crime thriller. There are dozens of them around at any one time. I too watch and read, though I find the standard of grammar in some of them a bit hard to swallow. I'm into a novel a the moment, but it's full of sentences like "(There was) an unshaven Neanderthal in a sleeveless, too-short undershirt chewing on a toothpick while sitting behind bullet-proof glass burping up a beer." The bullet proof glass was burping up a beer? I can hear my old fireside companion Raymond Chandler spinning in his grave. Of course, such writing sends a chill through me as I wonder if I do the same sort of thing. Probably, but I hope very occasionally and certainly not with the frequency I find in the short-chaptered, punchy-prosed, wad-thick novels that race to the top of the best seller list and stay there for six weeks. Naturally, if I could write thrillers I would do so. Money, money, money. Unfortunately I am completely inept at the genre.

The English language often bemuses me. On occasion I come across the written word 'golfing'. The other day it had me pausing to consider whether golfing is actually a word. I have never heard it used in speech. Everyone I know says they are going to 'play golf' not 'go golfing'. Yet it appears in thrillers all the time. One doesn't say 'basketballing' but then again, one does say 'swimming'. Hmmm. I went to my Chambers next (I prefer it to the Shorter Oxford which ain't short at all mate, but stands in two heavy volumes on a very weak bookshelf) and found that indeed 'golfing' is a legitimate word which does not point the scinger of forn at thriller authors who use it. Damn, I love to feel superior, but find I'm just a pedant after all and one who is frequently put on the back foot.

Saturday 7 June 2014

Annette and I live on the Shotley Peninsula, a triangle of land between the Rivers Orwell and Stour. We call it Mesopotamia, following the Ancient Greek meaning of the word and because it sounds exotic. It really is exotic in one sense: the wildlife abounds. We have no golden eagles or red squirrels, sadly, but we have most other birds and mammals, including otters, badgers, polecats, buzzards - the list is long. I like taking photos of my fellow creatures and have managed a barn owl this summer, both in flight and standing on a branch looking at me as if I were an alien. Owls are difficult, being around mostly in twilight when the light is poor, so often the photo is too fuzzy and out of focus. I have photos of four different little owls which are absolutely useless, even though it took lots of patience and many visits to take them. Yesterday at dusk however, Annette and I went for a long walk along the banks of the Stour, looking for little owls. What we found - having seen none for years - was a whole colony of hares. There are those who will tell you I have an obsession with hares and even follow the ancient Iceni practice of deifying them. The above photo is one of several taken at the going down of the sun and the close of the day. On the way home, guess what, sitting on top of a telephone pole was the one bird I had been trying to get forever. Annette sat in the car in extreme agitation on the bend of a narrow rural road, the hazard lights blinking, as I leapt from the vehicle to take the above picture. He looked at me as if he were posing for the front of a mag.