Badger Reads

The Queen of Crime and my reading addiction

Agatha Christie, pictured at her home, Winterbrook House in Wallingford, Berkshire, sitting behind her desk with books piled high, 1950.

This weekend while pottering in the garden (not really that cute, I was clearing up a downed tree from hurricane Fiona) I listened to “You’re dead to me” on BBC Sounds, the discussion that episode was Agatha Christie and I had a moment of revelation that, being precocious brat that I was back then, I first read an Agatha Christie novel when I was 13, some forty years ago.

The format for You’re dead to me, is presenter(name escapes me), scholar (Lucy Worsley) and comedian (Sue Perkins), discussing the topic at hand.
Sue revealed that she had been quite ill in her early teens and had taken refuge in a stack of Agatha Christies for company and had been hooked. I’ve previously felt a sort of affinity for Super kins, she is gay (like me) and is almost exactly one month older than me, so we’re obviously practically twins, and like her I discovered The Duchess of Death in my early teens, in an attic reading room in my junior house at boarding school.

Being the kind of boy who wasn’t boisterous (gay) and liked my own company (gay) and was and old soul (gay and probably a bit autistic) I preferred reading above any activity and while I can’t remember which book it was, I distinctly remember the room, cramped and musty, small brown painted bookcases with old books from the 40’s and 50’s (I also discovered Molesworth up there) and a haven from the other noisy boys.

So, getting back to Soup Erkins and Lucy Worsley and the discussion of the early Queen of Crime, it was fascinating to learn that while her family was sufficiently well off and middle class, she was largely an outsider/observer in and of the class structure of her time, which is demonstrated in her protagonists, Poirot, a refugee, effete and fussy, fat and dismissible. Marple, a nosy spinster old lady, who takes in everything, not at all important. Tuppence, a post great war modern gal and her nice but dim husband Tommy, all not the right kid of people, all successful in their work – just like Agatha herself
It’s small wonder that her work resonates with so many gay people, who like their heroes, don’t quite fit in and spend a good amount of time on the edges looking on.

I’ve just finished the excellent Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Final Architecture trilogy and decided to take a break from my long love of hard SF and revisit some old friends. So The Murder at the Vicarage, it is, to be followed by The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

On a side note, there has been controversy regarding the announcement that Christies work is to be reviewed and reworked to reflect modern language, and to sensitively adjust away the language which is clearly racist, demonstrates colonial disdain and is downright offensive. I look forward to rereading her books with fresh 21st century eyes and seeing how I feel about the language now, until then I offer no opinion.

Dame Margaret Rutherford, the only Jane Marple for me.

Badger Writes

Hello 2023

I’ve never really been a new years resolutions kind of boy, and yes, I know that I’ve made half arsed attempts at great self improvement promises to myself, but any changes I’ve ever made to my life or lifestyle have been incremental and never as a result of grandiose statements made in the haze of New Years champagne (or prosecco).

In fact, the older I get, the more content I am with everything in my life. I know that comes from a certain amount of privilege, but at 53, I find myself sat in my living room typing this, a fire burning in the grate, a cat stretched out in front of it. Classical music in the background, a fresh ground coffee at my elbow and feeling content is pretty easy.

But, I do have some intentions or goals for 2023 that are smart S.M.A.R.T.
smart as it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound
(See my dearest heart, I do listen and absorb).

1. Finish St Brigid (my current project), fully, completely and wearable. I have a terrible habit of starting new projects midway through long ones and getting distracted. I have at least three abandoned jumpers in project bags that need attention to be finished.
2. I have a huge stash of yarn, some bought and some inherited and I intend to sort through and make sensible decisions about what I should do with it. It’s been six years since my mother died and I inherited her stash and it’s way past time I stopped being soppy and be realistic about what I will actually use and what I should donate.
3. I will use the really nice yarn that is in my deep stash, the wet spun linens and cobweb weight stuff that I was given years ago and terrifies me.
4. I will not start new projects that require me to buy new yarn.

I switched to a e-reader a number of years ago, as I get older my eyes appreciate the resizable text and adjustable lights my Boox provides (and the warm light option means I can read in bed without the blue light problem that phones and tablets have with interrupting sleep). But I rarely give myself time to sit and read, so I tend to only read in bed before sleep and I read junk.
I want to read more of the serious literature I avoided in favour of my SF addiction.
I’ve been reading more Waugh and Orwell last year, I love Wodehouse, but feel regret that I never finished The Ragged Trouser Philanthropists, in fact I abandoned it to reread an old favourite. I Keep promising myself that I will start reading the Margaret Attwood novels I have, but found myself looking the violent TV adaptation of a Handmaids Tale and was deterred from opening her books, which is unfair of me, to judge her entire career based on one television adaptation. So fewer sweet treat SF novels and more serious broccoli ones, I like broccoli and I know I like decent literature if I make myself start.

Just before the pandemic really hit, I was persuaded to join a “learn to run” course at out local community center and much to my disgust I discovered that not only did I enjoy running, I was actually good at it. We had a few weeks running together and then it was lockdown and I was stuck with running on the treadmill in our basement. So on and off and nursing a tendon injury, I’ve been running. It’s been an amazing boost to my mental health, I’ve lost weight and I feel great.

So, now that things are getting “Back to normal” it’s my intention to increase my running training and start doing the Saturday park run in Victoria Park if and when they resume in the spring. It’s a flat 5k course, I’ve walked it with the dog before and the route is in a lovely wooded park. I know I can do it, I’ve run treadmill 5ks, I just need to up increase my stamina and endurance.

These are all still self improvement of sort, but things that I enjoy anyway. Personal domestic stuff I keep off the internet, but there are house renos and boxes in the basement from our move to the new house (6 years ago) that desperately need my attention this year and lets not talk about the state of the garage.