elsie katz's blog

Studio Flat - Bournemouth just moved in

A studio Flat shouts Me! This little place is for me alone. It also tells me how to behave. 'Be clean. Be tidy. Be organised. Don't clutter. Don't you dare!' I think it will be a good influence. I'm in West Cliff. My tree-lined street is a long terrace of blocks of studio flats book-ended by hotels. The blocks have green awnings. Did they used to be small hotels? I feel like I'm living in a hotel. One with leafy views, now that I've pulled the...

Moving on Saturday

Sometimes I think I might have given away too much... My boyfriend drove me to the cat adoption centre on Wednesday. I don't see them advertised on the website yet. Funny feellng on my last day of work walking at 5.30 from his place to open the back door of the cinema to do my last shift with the hoover and the mop. No need to pop into my place first and feed the miouwing clamour. I can stay away as many days as I like - no need to run back or...

Changes - a ramble

My background and that of my ancestors is real. It is also a forest, a forest that obscures the tree that is Elsie. And in a few weeks I shall uproot myself from the small seaside town where I have lived for 18 years. I'm shifting to Bournemouth. Why have two miles of golden sands when I can have seven? I shall be training to teach English as a foreign language. I don't know if I shall use my new training abroad or if I shall teach adult...

Ramp Hollow the Ordeal of Appalachia by Steven Stoll

Steven tells a story through linked facts. A tale of theft, lies and violence. Land where coal is discovered, it's there for grabs. Who wins - the bosses. Who loses - the miners and their families who lose their health hacking the coal out, who lose their homes migrating from one mining shanty town to the next and who get cheated out of their pay by having to pay high rents for rotten housing and worse plots to grow their vegatables than if they...

The Salterton Trilogy by Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies was a Canadian and the trilogy was published in the 1950's. His style of writing is out of style now. Lots of words, piercing observation of his huge cast of mainly arty, middle-class characters, shocking events- fraud, suicide, unbearable domestic situations, laugh out loud dialogue. I was on a bus going through Budleigh Salterton tittering away and I have no idea what the old prune seated next to me thought. Don't care - she...

Blue Dahlia, Black Gold a journey into Angola by Daniel Metcalfe

Good but not good enough. Daniel is a resilient young Englishman who is interested in Angola and organises a budget travel journalism trip. Starting with the 'easy bit' a stay on the laid back isle of San Tomeo he then travels Angola from end to end, meets lots of snapshot people, has a lot of experiences cf Laurie Lee, Patrick Leigh Fermor and comes back to Blighty and writes all about it. Daniel is strong on information. I now know a lot more...

Lullaby by Leila Slimani

Lullaby is plot, point of view, sharply drawn characters, shock by information. It won the Prix Goncourt. Would it have won a prize from a panel of English-speaking judges? I don't know. I think the mainstream literati prefer books where less happens and more is 'off the page' in nuanced hints, where we are given 'the information' by mannerisms of gesture, and half sentences. Lullaby gives us the pieces of a horror puzzle in a clever, well-...

Letter to AF

These days we're alike. Two calm old tabbies. Hope you are, I've not seen you for over thirty years but I hope you are alive and well in Basingstoke or London. I rejected you when I was 25, thought I was a forest cat with acres of adventure ahead. I called you an 'ignorant Scottish git', it was meant as a joke but it hurt, I never knew where to stop with my catty humour. These days I know I was the ignorant one. Ignorant, a word with two...

Hillbilly Elegy by J D Vance

'You picked a Fine Time to leave me Lucille' - but where's Lucille's song? That's how I feel about Hillbilly Elegy, it's one-sided. JD Vance is an escaped hillbilly. He left Mamaw, Papaw and Ma to their drinking, drug addiction and fighting and escaped to Harvard Law School and wrote Hillbilly Elegy when 31. Well done JD - but he assumes everyone in Appalachia has the same family life that he did. There must be some hillbillies out there who get...

Swallow This by Joanna Blythman

Do you buy supermarket food? Salad, cheese, rolls, vegetables - perhaps meat and fish when they are bargained off because they are on their sell-by dates? I do. This book is none too cheerful but it is important. I don't quite buy 'you are what you eat' - last time I looked in the mirror I did not resemble my breakfast boiled egg on toast, spread with Flora but I feel that what goes into my bod is essential fuel and I like to believe that it is...

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