Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Private And Peaceful Spies

We leave the building with two of them, one isn't enough.
The building is the Victorian Rolls Hall in Monmouth, South Wales, which the Rolls family (of Royce fame) gifted in 1988 to the people of Monmouth market town, for them to use as a lecture hall and theatre.
The Rolls Hall has for many years housed the local public library. 'Spies' is a novel by Michael Frayn, and 'Private and Peaceful' is a novel by Michael Morpurgo.
'We' are the Page Turners, a small - but incredibly noisy - reading club who meet once a month in the library's meeting room.
Because the Page Turners are such prolific readers, we swiftly moved from borrowing one book per month (finished in a relative five minutes) to two.
Last month we read Mark Twain's 'The Diary of Adam and Eve' (generally loved and enjoyed) and Jonathen Franzen's 'The Corrections' (nothing at all general about the response here; very mixed responses, which made for lively discussion).
But something odd has happened with this month's reading fare. Order out of chaos.
As a group we have rejected any sort of leadership structure - we don't take turns being in charge of the session, we have no nominated chairperson. We just all pitch in with what we want to, when we want to. It's fun, and creates the type of unpredictable and spontaneous experience that I relish.
Our choosing of which books to read is also quite random.  For example, we chose Murray Bail's 'Eucalyptus' because a couple of our members had lived in Australia; and we chose  'Silence of the Grave' by Arnaldur Indridason, because some of us liked the rhythm of the author's name.

So how come random selection has given us in one sitting (as it were), a side-by-side perspective on childhood in relation to Britain's two world wars?  The main character in Morpurgo's book is reflecting on his rural early family life, narrating from the First World War battlefields. Frayn's tale is of two boys looking out for spies during the Second World War.

The potential resonance between these two tales is adding extra anticipation to my reading pleasure.
Having said that, only one of the books (the fulfilled predicted pleasure that was Adam and Eve's diaries)  that I've read so far with the Page Turners have been what I expected them to be (which is one of the reasons why I'm enjoying belonging to the group).  So ...
I'll let you know how it goes.
Have you been a member of a reading club? How did you choose your reading? Did you have any odd co-incidences? Unexpected pleasures or displeasures?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Who am I thanking?

Thank you for the music ... cue for a song. But I've been pondering. Who am I thanking?
Ancient peoples making random harmonious sounds, that's music. But for me to pick up a piece of sheet music and be learning to sing it (I've joined a choir), or play on the new digital piano that Santa brought, there has to be musical written language - notation.
Who thought originally of doing this?
(I'm reminded of the joke about milking a cow - who was the person to think 'what a good idea, we'll pull at that critter's udders').
And visually and structurally, with staves and bar lines and dotty notes, written music follows the same rules whether I'm reading the music for 'when the saints go marching in' or a piece of Mozart. So do all nationalities, with all their different languages (Greek, Japanese, Swahili?) all start learning notation with the 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour' mnemonic?
Hmmmm ...
Any answers or insights anybody?