Sunday, 13 March 2011

As sure as eggs are eggs

A clutch of freshly laid eggs were delivered to me yesterday by Mr B who keeps bantams in his garden.  The Girls, as they are known, practically have their own web site, so popular are they.  They are indeed splendid creatures and have regular spa days chez Mr B. I was pretty bird-phobic till I met them, but they have won me over with their endearing habit of 'pock pocking' calls of greeting and being very fond of being stroked till they fall into a pretty feathered coma of contentment in your lap. 
Anyway, I got to thinking about all things hen-like in books and a remarkable thing arose:  All clearly bonkers people have, at some time, lived in a hen house. In fact and in fiction.  I adored the story of Lady Gladys, who had one of the first nose jobs that went a little awry.  She had demanded a nose based on a classical bust, and it was duly done but filled with wax, so that she could never sit in front of a fire lest it melt (which apparently it did).  She had great beauty and wealth and married into the aristocracy but it all went horribly wrong when she lurched from charmingly eccentric to completely batty and retired amongst the hens.  Chips Channon saw her once on Bond Street and doffed his hat and was about to greet her, when she froze him out with an icy sapphire stare.  Then of course, there was Great Uncle Ulick who is drafted in to partner a Molly Keane heroine who to her shame, is splattered with chicken manure as it is rumoured, and she suspects it is true that he lives with his chickens.  And Ma Kettle - oh my goodness, the star of The Egg and I.... You have been alerted Mr B. Stay out of the hen house!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

World Book Night

Well, I am quite aware that some of you, well, thousands of you went to Trafalgar Square to hear starry authors (amongst them the perfect poppet that is David Nicholls and the sublime Margaret Atwood) but here in Brighton we made do with Brighton Library.  And being Brighton is was... well, it was somewhat different. We had performance poetry about dog poo, we had pirates, we had a 90 year old woman reading her first book that she'd had published last week into a non-working microphone and a blind woman was emoting in Children's Corner to a group of spellbound kids.  There was also Shedman (don't ask, I haven't got a clue.) Oh yes, and there were the Library Whisperers - a group of thin young men in dodgy looking raincoats who accosted you to 'whisper' about their favourite books, but they were all a bit too nervous and congregated in the Green Room eating kit-kats.  Our brave author, Andrew Kay read aloud from his favourite book (My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell) straining to make himself heard over the unprecedented noise and chaos of the library.  And jolly well he did too.  There were storytellers who had 3 minutes each, and a lovely woman who had written the Brighton Encyclopedia.  There were book give-aways that were eagerly snatched up and a very cute looking scruffy white dog that got a lot of attention (I think he'd got an agent by the end of the evening).  Fun, chaotic, noisy, and quite bonkers.  The saving grace for me was that people had been asked to fill in a questionnaire about books and I leave you with the best comments that I saw. Q: "What do you like best about books?" A:"They are nothing like life ...(they are better) Quite right too.