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Around Lichfield

semi-overcast 6 °C

Another weekend without going very far. Since I didn't really fancy just going home and sitting on Friday night, I stopped off in Birmingham (there is no cinema in Lichfield) to see The Reader, the movie which got Kate Winslet her Oscar the other night. One day I'll read Bernard Schlink's book from which it was drawn - it is back home. I largely enjoyed it, going in with very little knowledge of what the movie was about, except that it had something to do with a prison guard in Auschwitz. That turned out to be Hannah Schmitz (Winslet). I largely enjoyed the movie, but had a couple of problems with it - the fact that when she is on trial, Michael goes to her and might have given her the moral support to confess that her confession was all a lie but walks away at the last minute, the fact that she'd rather go down for killing hundreds of people than confess to not being able to read, and the wierd way in which she makes her confession, sort of "yeah, I killed those people, its what you do". But I delighted in the fact that Michael made recordings of all his books and sent them to her.

Afterwards, I went and tried the other Malaysian cafe, the one next to the one I went to last week but hadn't visited because (a) it was empty, (b) every time I peeked in the window, the woman running it seemed to glare at me and (c) she probably thought I was some kind of wierdo. Anyway, they did a very nice curry, so I went away to Lichfield happy.

Something I have discovered over here is the tea-cake, something I hope to learn to make when I get home; it is spiced like a hot cross bun, but quite a bit paler and wider. They toast it, and it is very good with melting butter and jam. Since I was just spending my Saturday wandering around Lichfield, I had an opportunity to do some comparison shopping amongst the large number of cafes. What I have learnt is that there is no place that provides the magic combination of good coffee and good tea-cakes, in fact the one good coffee place does not even sell tea-cakes. So, if I want one, I have to drink tea with it. Terrible state of affairs. Towards the middle of the afternoon I ventured towards the Guildhall, for the Lichfield Real Ale beer festival. It was heaving with people, there was nowhere to sit and the best beers had sold out, so I forced down a couple of half pints and retired to a quiet pub, where I could read my paper (an all day project in the weekends) in peace.

In the evening, I went to a unique event at the Lichfield Garrick Theatre - a sort of musical play, They Call Me Natasha. This is about a woman called Natasha who is an Elvis Costello impersonator (as an aside, I have to say, that the number of "tribute" bands and bars devoted to them is enormous). But the thing is - she gets so caught up in her impersonation that she actually believes she is Elvis, and so a lot of the play is given to her performng a roster of Elvis Costello songs. She did them pretty well, although about three songs in, I tuned out for a while; she sang Alison and it made me wonder whatever happened to my friend Alison, who last time I saw her was headed off to do something I found quite fascinating; she was simply going to sit on her porch for "six months, and see what happens".

I'd spent some time doing research into finding a camera to replace the one I lost last week; the particular model I had was out of production and the price of a replacement of similar specs was just a little frightening. Besides, I'd never really taken advantage of having a DSLR and liked the idea of a longer zoom. So, when I found that dpreview rated the Fuji f100fd really highly and a local camera shop had one for under 70 quid, my decision was made. I've also, thanks to Amazon, found a replacement music player, a very nice Sony MWZ 6839 so things are looking up. Now all I have to do is persuade an insurance company that "left it on a train" is good reason for them to pay!

This took up nearly all my Sunday so, once again, it was pretty much dark by the time I made it up to Worcester to stay in my favourite bed and breakfast hotel. No matter, I had a nice meal at an Indian place and had a quiet night in.

Although I am supposedly sharing my office with not one but two other people, work is deathly quiet since neither of them turn up so I decided it was time to get me a wee office radio. On my way to Argos on Monday morning, I was wandering, not really paying a whole lot of attention to my feet, when I felt a bump and then a muffled thump. There was this poor wee girl, all of about four, in a pink puffer jacket with blond hair laid out flat on the ground in front of me, too surprised to even yell or cry. I was, of course, very apologetic but her mum thought it was completely her daughter's fault, so wouldn't hear a word of apology from me.

Tuesday evening, I summoned up the courage and actually went to the book club meeting, the same group I fled from last week. So glad I did, although I was thrown in the deep end a little. They start their meetings by voting for the next book - the person who nominates has to do a spiel. One nominaor didn't show - since she wanted Revolutionary Road to be the March book, I jumped in. Through some strange voting process, the book nominated by the group leader made the cut (hmmm - gives me some ideas for my own book club). They were discussing Barack Obama's first autobiography. About 30 of us broke into two groups and sat in circles and had a fairly intense discussion about the book, race politics, being a half breed...

Finally, on the Wednesday I popped out to Wolverhampton, to see Baz Luhrmann's Australia, a movie widely regarded as a flop. Certainly the first half hoour struck me as cartoonish, just giving a sequence of caricatures, but then it settled down and became a cracking yarn, with romance, danger, a wild race (to get 1500 cattle through the desert to ship them out of Darwin in a race against the local bigwig), war (the Japanese bombing of Darwin) and the heartbreaker - wee Nullah.

Still reading Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road (although I have a 45 minute commute, the newspapers here give so much to read, I don't actually have any of my commute time to read my book, which is why its taking me a long time).

Posted by NZBarry 09:32 Archived in England

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