Literary inspirations

At a time when I am finding it impossible to finish reading a book, and also experiencing a slow-down in my desire to write, I thought I would reblog this 2015 post about my love of books, and some recommendations of those I have read in the past. Some of you (Jude, Sue, Cindy, David) have already read it. But since 2015, I have welcomed many new followers.

beetleypete

I have never written about books on this blog. Considering the amount of words I have written about so many other things, this fact has just struck me. It has been a glaring omission, and one I will attempt to rectify with this post. It will not be a series, so don’t worry.

Many blogs on the Internet are about books and literature. Some recommend good new reads, most promote the work of the blogger themselves. Others quote from classical literature, or delve into its origins and meanings. I won’t be doing any of that. Do I write because I used to read, or did I read because I wanted to write? The answer is probably neither of those options. I started writing at school like most of us do, as it is compulsory. But I didn’t read for that reason, I did it for enjoyment, education, and a desire…

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Significant Songs (79)

Reblogging a post from 2015 about a very old song that I love so much. Apologies to those who have seen it previously.
I was thinking about this song today, and it is in my head.

beetleypete

Pennies From Heaven

This song originated as the feature track from the 1936 film of the same name. Originally sung by Bing Crosby in that film, it was later recorded by almost every famous singer since. The list of those who covered the song is too long to write here, but it includes Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan. For me, this is best heard sung by a ‘crooner’, and the sadness underlying the central message of hope comes over well if it is recorded in a somewhat plaintive tone.

In 1978, the BBC produced a landmark television series of the same title, written by Dennis Potter, and starring Bob Hoskins, Cheryl Campbell, and Gemma Craven. The song featured heavily of course, and the version used was by Arthur Tracy. This was also made into a -best forgotten- Hollywood film adapted by and starring Steve Martin. The TV series…

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Enjoying A ‘Wallow’

Maybe it’s the time of year, the dark afternoons, or just my age, I don’t know.

But for the last couple of days, I have been enjoying a nostalgic wallow in the early days of my blog. (Hence reposting one of my original ‘Significant Songs’.) Picking a header comment, photo, and theme. Never sure if you got the blog name right, or if anyone was ever going to read so much as one word that you wrote.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I got excited to receive as many as two comments on a post, and sometimes even six likes! I would return to my old computer and check on the progress of a post, just to see if anyone else had left a comment.

One of the sad things about revisiting those posts from the first eighteen months of blogging is seeing comments from former ‘regulars’ who just disappeared, or decided to stop blogging. I wish they were still around, and if any of them read this, I hope you are well.

Using the stats page to see which posts are being read is often a revelation. People have been reading posts that I had forgotten about, and in some cases don’t even remember writing. I love it when someone randomly reads very old stuff, as it reminds me of a time when I really didn’t have the first clue about blogging. (Before you tell me, I know I probably still haven’t)

FR (Fragglerocking) wisely counsels me to always look forward, and to never dwell in the past. But I can’t help myself, especially where my blog is concerned.

I am sure you all remember those tentative first steps. Checking your post over and over before hitting ‘Publish’, then wondering if anyone other than your best friend was ever going to bother to read it. The first time you were notified that you had a follower whose name you didn’t know, or received a comment from an experienced blogger who said something nice about your post.

Blogs needs to evolve to survive, and to remain interesting. But there is little to compare with that thrill of those early posts, and the feeling of dipping a toe into the vast ocean of communication and community known as Blogging.

So if you will forgive me, I am going back for another short wallow.

Christmas Past

I didn’t always dislike Christmas.

As a child, I would ask to go to bed early on the 24th, so I could wake up and get all my presents when it was still dark. I am an only child, and though not spoiled, I was never short of a pile of presents from my mum and dad, as well as my extended family of uncles and aunts.

By the time my parents were awake, I had already read my Christmas Annuals books, and all of my toys and other gifts would have been opened and examined. Like most kids then, I dreaded receiving ‘sensible presents’, like clothing. But I will never complain about my childhood Christmases, as I can still remember the thrill of them. And I appreciated every gift, however small.

Then it was off to my maternal grandmother’s house, for a massive family Christmas lunch at 2 pm. Everyone would be there, and trestles would have been set up for a huge table top to rest on. Then every chair in the house, mismatched or not, would be crowded around so that everyone had a seat at the table. Before that happened, all the men would set off for the lunchtime drinking session in the nearby pub, while the women and older girls took on the mammoth task of preparing all the vegetables, and laying the table.

And all of this cooked in a single small gas oven, with a three-ring hob above.

The men would return just in time to sit and eat, still merry from too much beer and whisky. Then in the afternoon, they slept off the booze, while the exhausted women washed up and cleared away, ready to serve up the ‘Christmas Tea’. Assorted shellfish, bread and butter, lots of cakes, and anything sweet.

The evening would see a huge Christmas party. Crates of beer lined up in my grandmother’s parlour, the ‘good rug’ rolled up and stored away, and my aunt Edie exercising her skill on the piano as my dad and my uncle sang popular songs of the day, as well as wartime melodies. Everyone over the age of sixteen smoked, so the blue haze in the room would sting my young eyes as I sat enjoying the seasonal show.

When it got too late for me, I would sneak into my grandmother’s bedroom, and creep under the pile of coats laid on her bed. They included ancient furs that smelled of mothballs, and huge wool overcoats that had the aroma of tobacco.

I never really remembered my dad lifting me up to take me out to the car.

But I always woke up in my own bed on Boxing Day.