Sunday 16 October 2011

Deutsche Lit !November 2011!

So, given that some people (@Lizzy and @Caroline) have decided it to be German book month in November, and I am a massive German book fan, and November is my birthday month, I feel this is all coming together to encourage me to blog about some of my favourites! Although it obviously isn't yet November....

Perhaps I have to declare, I studied German literature. I know, it's a problem. Free license to buy all those beautiful books with at least the theory that it was helping my degree... Anyways, now that I live and work in the North East of England, instead of living in Germany or studying Germany, there is slightly less time for this obsession. Nevertheless, until recently, when I started my new job and moved closer to work, I used to have about 2-3 hours a day on public transport, which was often used to continue this habit.

Down to business. I find it difficult to name absolute favourites, given as I am to mentally being prepared for someone at uni to argue the opposite point of view. I must confess though that I haven't necessarily read everything in German. A crime I realise. In particular, no. 1, which admittedly was a Christmas present from my parents in the gorgeous new translation. And if I'm honest I don't think I would have made it through the German. It might have been abandoned, or rather put aside for later, like currently my copy of Dr Faustus by Mann.

  1. Der Zauberberg, T. Mann. Just excellent. There is little else to say.
  2. Effi Briest, Fontane. I only read this a few months ago, after having heard others rave about it for quite some time. My copy was actually free from the Faculty library last year before I left... which means that the annotations were incredible...
  3. Die Blechtrommel, Grass. I love Grass. I know he's arrogant and self-conscious, and not completely free of moral ambiguity, but this one is epic. I have more by him on my bookshelf at my parents that I have actually read, than probably anyone else (apart from, like, Roald Dahl).
  4. Plays by Lenz: i.e. Die Soldaten, Der Hofmeister, Der neue Menoza :-) I know, I studied them, I even wrote about them, but they are brilliant. Everyone says of Kafka how forward looking he was, and he's read widely in translation because of this, but this should be true for more writers/dramatists etc etc etc. Ok rant over.
  5. And whilst we're on dramatists: Schiller. In particular, Maria Stuart, Don Karlos and the Wallenstein trilogy.
  6. Der fremde Freund, Christoph Hein. I came to this, again, rather late. It's one of those ones Germans study in school. I swallowed it in I think 1 or 2 sittings.

I need some time to think. I shall return to this later in the week once I've considered the rest of my bookshelf (as I mentioned, unfortunately it is many miles away at my parents house).

Wednesday 30 March 2011

An "optional" extra...

I have spent a lot of spare time today reading the live updates on the Guardian site about the Arts Council funding decisions: Oh my, what horrible decisions they had to make.  But of course these are decisions based on the fact that the Government cut 29% of the funding.  This stuff just makes me so sick. 

I’ve said it before, but as soon as I can I’m “gonna get out of this place” and go somewhere that values the Arts.  Like Germany, for instance.  Yes, they have their own problems – what with the massive debts of rebuilding the East, the general weird issue of integration of minorities, a healthcare system I just can’t understand, etc. – but they actually have THEATRES in towns.

I seriously fear that in 5 years time if the cuts continue, much of the Arts scene in the UK will be gone.  And the integration projects with schools and the disabled will go, and the focus will become even more profit driven than it already is.

Last time the Conservatives cut stuff, the Music Ed. system in the whole of the UK suffered for at least a decade…  I distinctly remember sermons from our orchestra conductor bemoaning the fact that nobody learnt the viola, because there was no funding for it.  It is so easy for people like Guardian Trolls to claim that we don’t want our taxes to go towards the Arts, and every time it makes me grind my teeth in rage.  Why is Arts provision not enshrined as a duty of the government?  Currently it seems to be an optional extra.

Monday 21 March 2011

10 to 6

well it's that time of day and week again: nearly the weekend

Or at least that is to say, having dragged myself into work Saturday and Sunday AND Monday, I get Tuesday lieu.  Weird word that "in lieu".  All my Geordie colleagues say it, and so do I, but really "in lieu" of what? In lieu of a weekend, but really, a Friday and a Tuesday aren't a weekend...

Hmmm...  Still, I'm not complaining that there's no work tomorrow and that I then have only 3 days of work until my next proper weekend!

Monday 21 February 2011

Sunday 20 February 2011

East Coast trains

So, I thought I'd be healthy last week - interesting plan.  I was on shifts at work, which meant getting to work was easy, but home was tricksy.  Plan was: cycle from Central Station to work and back again, thus avoiding reliance on buses, Metro and friends' kind lifts.

Did this work you ask?  Well, I guess seeing as I'm writing about it, NO.  Monday: cycled in.  All good.  Cycled back to station.  All good.  Got to platform, waiting for train with bike.  Unfortunately I had no reservation, and the Train Guard was feeling lazy so he DIDN'T LET ME ON.  Couldn't believe it, nearly cried.  (Next train was in around an hour)

Went and got a bite to eat, booked a cycle reservation for next time I wanted to travel and then waited.  Lovely Transpennine train came in on time, and off I went.  No hassle.  I <3 Transpennine.

Angry letter has been written to East Coast, just waiting to post it.

Tuesday I didn't try the bike - managed to blag a lift in friend's car back to a metro station.  Got a taxi to station on Wednesday (at £10 this isn't a general option!).  Thursday got another lift by said friend.  Friday, friend gave me a lift with the bike on the back seat (!) because it was so windy.  Reservation went fine and no sign of grumpy train guard.

Ok, enough vented.  The moral of this story is I will now always have to get a cycle reservation...  Argh.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Homemade Focaccia :-)

Made Focaccia bread from my new cookbook on Sunday...  Must remember that the recipe's call for 5 tsp of salt is for a bread to poison people with.  Still, eaten with some cucumber it was very tasty.  I would have posted a picture but unfortunately boyfriend has now finished it all.  Mwa ha ha haa.