Thursday, 28 February 2008

Times have changed

This is a brilliant piece of trivia for any resident of Manchester: In 1850, Charlotte Brontë came to stay in Plymouth Grove with fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, and wrote the following about the charming area of Moss Side - "In this hot weather the windows are kept open; the whispering of leaves and perfume of flowers pervades the rooms."

What might she say now?! "In this hot weather the windows are still locked and barred; the wailing of burgler alarms and stench of dead cats pervades the rooms." different life is now.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The noblest vocation

We had a concert at school tonight and two of my singing students sang.

I think I might have now come to understand why teaching is so fantastic - I felt so incredibly proud of them as I watched them perform, and the idea that I have helped them in some way, however small, to enjoy singing more...well, it's just brilliant.

Just brilliant.

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again..."

I read Daphne du Maurier's acknowledged masterpiece Rebecca last summer, and came to understand why it's regarded as such a fantastic book...I couldn't put it down, reading til the early hours of the morning then getting so scared that I'd have to stop until the daytime! What affected me most was the sense of dread and impending disaster that permeates the whole keep reading out of morbid fascination, really, to reach the inevitably chilling end as quickly as possible.

On Monday this week I began to read another of her books, Jamaica Inn - as I expected, I was immediately hooked all over again. It was written before Rebecca, and you can probably tell that it's not as mature in construction as the later book, but the Gothic terror is still there in abundance, as well as the enigmatic characters and the approaching doom.

"From far away, across many fields and scattered ploughlands, came the merry peal of bells, odd and discordant, in the morning air.
She remember suddenly that it was Christmas Day."

It will not be a happy Christmas for the inhabitants of the Jamaica Inn.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

A small observation

It is often very good indeed to sit down and chat about life with your housemates.

Monday, 18 February 2008

"What's she on about now?"

A bunch of us went to see the play Roots by Arnold Wesker tonight - it was fantastic in the way that a play should be, in that it left us all very thoughtful and unsure about what the final message was. Beattie has her big epiphany about life and family and roots and everything else, and is thrilled to discover that she is finally thinking for herself, but the viewer can't help feeling...what good will it do her? Can she really change life now? Of course not - she has made herself completely alone: her family will never ever understand her now, and the man she loves has deserted her because she didn't become the woman he wanted until it's too late.

So it's a bit bleak but incredibly thought-provoking too.

As all good plays should be.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

"How do you do it?" - Adelaide Midwinter

Life is strange; we all know this, obviously, but it can still wrongfoot you. A person you think you know very well can do something unexpectedly hurtful and not even realise; a fictional story (tonight, Lark Rise to Candleford) can inexplicably upset you even though it's not real.

That's the weirdness of life, I suppose, and the complexities of people.

But, then again, we sang a wonderful hymn in church this morning:

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure when the billows roll.
Fastened to the rock which cannot move -
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour's love.

It's a slightly cliched chorus really, the kind of song that one associates with brass bands and community hymn-singing; nowadays, we prefer poetic beauty or pop-esque cheese in our Christian songs, not this outright simplicity of faith. But it's so true. Sometimes, when life just throws something at me that brings me close to tears, all I have left is this unshakeable truth: that I have an anchor in Jesus Christ. And that's all I need.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

A first attempt

So this is my first venture into the world of blogging...we'll see how it goes. My housemates reliably inform me that it is an excellent thing to be doing, anyway.

Now, my blog's title refers to The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which I've just finished reading; I can't really recommend it highly enough - it really is simply astounding. A little girl named Liesel Meminger is living in Munich during the Nazi regime, and this is the story (narrated by Death himself) of how she tried to change the world in her own small way. Zusak's writing style is remarkable, it's some of the most poetic prose I've ever read. Read it! Everyone should! At once!

So since that's the last book I read, and I loved it so much, I thought I might steal the Thief herself for my blog title; and it's quite appropriate, as I love books and I prophesy that most of my posts will probably be here you go, some confessions from this particular book thief for you to read whenever you feel like it.

For now, I'll leave a quote from the book:
"I am haunted by humans." - Death