Cryptic Answer

From yesterday’s Guardian cryptic crossword:

Leading Tory: “I have come last in poll, schooling ultimately a fiasco” (7, 4)

Answer:- Michael Gove

For those of you who have difficulty decoding such things the clues have a definition part – here “Leading Tory” – and another part which guides you towards the answer. Here the word fiasco tells you to make an anagram of previous letters, specifically “I have come”, the last letter of the word poll, “l”, and the ultimate letter of schooling, “g”.

What makes the clue particularly delightful is that its last three words describe the gentleman concerned’s tenure as Secretary of State for Education down south.

Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage 34: Causewayhead, Stirling

I was over west a bit a few weeks ago and finally stopped at the Causewayhead roundabout near the Wallace Monument to photograph the building below which has a nice stepped roofline. You can spot the monument in the background of the second view.

Causewayhead is in Stirling but I believe the road this stands on is called Airthrey Road.

I think the bloke on the phone at the front of the shops wondered what on Earth I was doing.

There is good horizontal detailing on the side pillaring in this next photo. The windows look replacement.

The best bit of the whole layout is the lovely curved wall – in two dimensions – plus deco pillar at the gate.

There is a good deco feel to the gate too. Note the curving on the rear side of the wall pillar as well as its front.

Cryptic Clue

There was a brilliant cryptic crossword clue in today’s Guardian.

It read:-
Leading Tory: “I have come last in poll, schooling ultimately a fiasco” (7, 4)

I was flummoxed to begin with; it wasn’t until I got the down clue that connected with the first letter of the seven letter word (M) that I got it.

Answer tomorrow.

Review, the Guardian, Saturday, 16/8/14

I usually read all the stuff about fiction in the Guardian’s Saturday Review as well as some of the non-fiction reviews.

Last week’s contained three items of particular interest to me.

The cover piece, Steven Pinker’s An Anti-stickler’s Manifesto was about ten “grammar rules” he thinks it’s okay to break sometimes. He says that some of them aren’t actually rules at all and others aren’t rules in English. You may be surprised to read that by and large I agree with him. But I do believe it is important to know what the rules are. This is in order that when you break them it is for a purpose.

Then there was an article about Martin Amis. In this Amis was quoted as saying, “Prose is foremost, and ‘if the prose isn’t there, then you’re reduced to what are merely secondary interests, like story, plot, characterisation, psychological insight and form.’” Secondary interests? Psychological insight is a secondary interest? Story is a secondary interest? Characterisation is a secondary interest? Is this last not what certain purveyors of genre (no names, no pack drill) are pilloried for not providing?

The final piece was an interview with George R R Martin, in London for the Science Fiction Worldcon after first appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival.

This Year’s Hugo Awards

These were announced at the SF Worldcon in London.

(I know I really ought to have gone but it was in Docklands rather than London proper and I don’t even like London much. Perhaps I’m tired of life.)

The winners for fiction were:-

Best novel: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Best novella: Equoid by Charles Stross

Best novelette: The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Best short story: The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu

Of these I’ve read only the novel winner but congratulations to all.

Busy, Busy

I’ve been busy on and off and haven’t had much time for blogging.

Bête  cover

I’m not mentioning Saturday’s result, I’m too depressed. Just as well I didn’t make the trip. I feel I ought to turn up at Easter Road for the League Cup game though.

My latest Interzone review book has arrived. It’s Adam Roberts’s latest, Bête. (It’s not that long ago I read his Jack Glass.) The review will appear in issue 255.

I think I forgot to mention issue 253 had come out.* That one has my review of Kieran Shea’s Koko Takes a Holiday.

*Edited to add. My memory is mince. I did mention it, when I reviewed the fiction in issue 250.

Hotel World by Ali Smith

Penguin, 2002, 238 p.

 Hotel World cover

I picked this up in a local library as I hadn’t read it. The author was born in Inverness and so counts for the Read Scotland Challenge; but see below.

Hotel World is not so much a novel as six novellas linked by the accidental death of Sara Wilby, a young woman worker in a hotel. She packed herself into the dumb waiter and its cables broke, plunging her to her death. The novellas each have titles relating to a verb tense; past, present historic, future conditional, perfect, future in the past, present. The first is narrated by the dead woman (after the death,) the second from the viewpoint of Else, a woman begging on the streets outside the hotel where the accident took place, the third is Lise’s, one of the hotel’s receptionists, whose mother is composing a poem cycle called ‘Hotel World,’ the fourth tells of the strange evening esperienced by Penny, a later female guest, the fifth is an unpunctuated stream of consciousness of Clare, the dead girl’s sister, the paragraphs of which are connected by and – with the single exception of an I – all start with &, the sixth is an overview of what various minor characters observed earlier are doing in the present moment.

As in all of Smith’s novels which I have so far read the text’s right hand margin isn’t justified. This didn’t, though, seem so distracting in this volume.

The only hints of Scottishness here are the use of the word skirl, one mention each of the inscription on the rim of pound coins of the motto “nemo me impune lacessit” which was that of the Scottish monarchy (English pound coins have “Decus et tutamen” there,) of the “run-rig system of farming in Scottish History III,” and a town in the misty cold-bound Highlands. This is more than in subsequent Smith novels, though.

Several times Smith uses the archaic sounding phrase “back and fore,” where “back and forth” is perhaps more heard, we had pigmy instead of pygmy and foetid spelt in the USian manner as fetid.

I’m really not sure what to make of Smith. She can clearly write well, with insights into the human condition, but is it too much to ask for a plot?

Lauren Bacall

And so now it’s Lauren Bacall.

She was the good lady’s favourite actress, but then again Humphrey Bogart was the good lady’s favourite actor. (Childhood weekends spent watching on TV old black and white films which her father could remember from the first time around.)

Bacall probably had one of the most intriguing entrances to a film career of any actress in that scene from To Have and Have Not. In many ways it was only downhill from there.

Still; she had a long life.

Lauren Bacall (Betty Joan Perske):- 16/9/1924 – August 12/8/2014. So it goes.

Leslie, Fife

I’ve posted previously about the sad demolition of Leslie’s Art Deco Cinema.

There are still some thirties-style buildings around, though.

This is the former Co-op. It’s not really bent; this is a stitch of two photos to get it all in.

This is what the two separate photos looked like:-

The marble round the centre door would have looked impressive in its day but it’s a bit tired now.

The former cafe on the corner here has more than a hint of Deco in the rounded element and the detailing above the door.

This isn’t deco but the columns either side of the windows prefigure the style. It’s opposite the Green and is the Old Parish Church Hall:-

Robin Williams

I was so sad to hear of the death of Robin Williams.

I first remember him from, of course, the US TV series Mork and Mindy where Williams played Mork, an alien sent to Earth from the planet Ork in order to observe its customs. He reported back to his superior, Orson, at the end of each episode which allowed fun to be poked at our human peculiarities. The programme wasn’t SF, it just borrowed one of the tropes for comedy purposes. His manicness was apparent even then. He blazed through that show like a meteor.

The first film I saw him in was The World According to Garp, where his serious acting talents were displayed. In Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs Doubtfire he showed a talent for acting in all its variety. By the mid nineties though I had pretty much stopped going to see films nor did I have time to watch them on TV so I haven’t seen much else of his.

He brought a lot of joy with his comedic abilities. It’s regrettable that gifts such as his so often come with a downside. A downside that seems to have cost him his life. So it goes.

Mork signs off.

Robin McLaurin Williams: 21/7/1951 – 11/8/2014. Na-Nu Na-Nu.

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