Category Archives: books to the rescue

i’ve got shakespeare induced giggles


ever since people were people they have been guided by their imagination – stories are a huge part of our lives, have been and will always be – stories can be told in so many ways, literature is just one of them

it is my favourite pastime to look at the entangled stories of life and literature – to see how the things we read have influenced the world we live in – every book i devour has started to influence my imagination and my life has changed accordingly – i read and accumulate facts, ideas, motifs, themes, character traits, and other things i like into a new way of thinking – incidentally that is also what i do in my phd: albeit simply focusing on yorkshire and how literature has shaped people’s idea and image of yorkshire, it is just one example how i like to look at literature

and ever so often i come across something that makes me giddy and happy because i realize that other people see the world just as i do and know about the secret (or not as much) influence literature has on us – that makes me really glad for i am not alone


i feel like a pigeon with a very strong homing instinct trained on yorkshire – it has been over a year, since i last strolled down the streets of york, listening to the minster bells and over two years, since i spent that delightfully sunny day at whitby, when i fell in love with whitby and decided that i want to grow old there and be buried in the graveyard by the sea – i love the sea, wherever i go, but whitby really has that special feeling of safety and adventure about it, that draws me in and does not let me go

but i also feel like a day on the moors with only sheep and the wind to keep me company – or a walk up to top withens with all those wuthering heights and heathcliff emotions floating around me and inspiring me to start writing again, instead of sitting at my desk all day, lost for words and lost for inspiration because germany is just plain old boring and people are unfriendly, rude, and, simply put, not english!

it is obvious to anybody, that i was born in the wrong place, since people keep on asking me, if i am english all the time – and while i have strong feelings for my home as well – after all, i do love fairy tales (reading and writing them) and the brothers grimm were pretty much my neighbours from very long ago – and germany has some wonderful places and memories – but it is only ever in england that i feel truly like home, like i belong, and fit in perfectly – and it is always to yorkshire that i am pulled by invisible forces – perhaps my ancestors really did come from england – after all, i have to have gotten the red hair and the weird sense of humour from somewhere along the line

anyways, all this reminiscing  was just the introduction – i have handed in my application to give a presentation at a conference in leeds in january and i am terrribly excited about it and do so desperately hope that i get in – i want to talk and tell people about my work and research and my fascination with yorkshire – but i have decided, that even if i don’t get to talk, i’ll still go and this knowledge is like a little glowing spark right inside of me – it keeps me happy and warm and feeling like dancing along the streets – i don’t care, that it might be cold and dreary in january – i love yorkshire and just like david hockney i love seasons and how they change nature, so i’ll put up with the cold and rain and snow, if i get to spend time there – i am planning to stay 5 to 7 days and am really, very excited, preparations have already started: writing old friends, planning outings to whitby and the wildlife trust reserves with the volunteers, and hot chocolates at la place verte because that is, what happiness is all about


today, apparently, there will be great news all around – three little e-mails and each containing wonderful news – after waiting for more than six months, my new kitchen will finally be delivered next week and on thursday nonetheless, which will give me all tuesday afternoon and wednesday to clean out my fridge and cupboards, get them taken down and renovate – i have been waiting for such a long time and always anxious because not all days would be as perfect – also, i have given up all in-depth cleaning of the old kitchen and it started to gross me out

second good news is the promise of work – i applied a while ago and hadn’t heard anything, but now the editor got back from her summer vacation and immediatly send me an e-mail, letting me know that she’ll have some corrections ready for me in a couple of weeks and that she’ll forward my offer to all the otehr editors – yay!

and the third one was also somehow work-related – i offered to host a science show in november and i got the job, if the show happens – so now i’ll put even more effort into helping the show along

yes, life can be good, if you get yourself off of your couch (or in my case out of your bed) and do something – having been pretty down these past couple of months has left me exhausted – i’ll call it a depressive phase and move on – i cannot live my life in bed and neither would i – i’ll get back to adventures and fun – that’s more like it

oh, by the way, wrote about 2 pages worth of phd introduction today as well – and they seemed to fall out of my head and on to the page with no effort at all – i wish, everydasy would be as easy as that

and one last ps: anyone recognize the title of my post? it’s yorkshire- and literature related, of course


alright, it’s more like sunday afternoon, but i cannot help it, i’ve got this song stuck in my head as well as the uncontrollable urge to work on a jigsaw puzzle – too bad i don’t have one here, i’ll have to get one tomorrow – i guess that really sums up that delicious sunday feeling of being able to laze about and do whatever you feel like doing – i started the day by finishing a book and then wishing it had never ended – i recently started a love affair with a new author and i think she’d be the first to understand because that’s what her books are all about: the love of books

helene hanff, a struggling new york author landed a surprise hit with 84, charing cross road, which i stumbled upon in the library, took home and was charmed with it – i immediately followed it up with duchess of bloomsbury street, which is an account of her first journey to london and now i finished q’s legacy, which describes how she came to love books, write 84 and duchess and what happened afterwards – quite apart from the charm of the books of not being hugely famous, but rather known to a select circle, i feel as if i know helene quite well because i have read her books – it is as if i was right there with her from the moment she wrote that first fateful letter to the bookshop in london to her various adventures in england – a love of books and a love of england? – how could i resist? – i only whish i had known her earlier, thirty years seems an awful long time to have lived without her – nevertheless i will wait for my next trip to england to buy my own copies of the books from one of those many lovely antiquarian book shops along charing cross or tucked away quite unexpectantly all over the country – i swear, they’ll be the death of me because i’ll keep on buying books and i have no more room, but that again makes me feel ever so close to helene and her story

ps: sit tight for a renewal of all things book as i’ll soon put up another book appreciation post


finally! summer vacation – i have packed a bikini and a couple of sun dresses, lots of sun screen and a couple of books – it is supposed to be 39° C on friday and i plan on either laying at the pool all day or taking a day trip to the near by atlantic coast and chilling on the beach and in the ocean

plans apart from lazing about are:  buying shoes – sandals, ballarina flats and possibly new dancing heels; going to see hockney at the guggenheim, possibly lunching at the guggenheim, taking the bilbobus, because it is simply the best name for a bus ever, taking a ridiculous amount of photos, buying a new basque style hat, not being embarrased how poor my spanish skills have gotten and possibly improving them


celebrating having handed in my second chapter today – now it’s on to writing about james herriot – the part i’ve been looking forward to for a long time


what a busy and successful day – i worked for two hours (money earning work) – then exercised for half an hour – showered – had lunch with a friend – i took a little nap after i got home, worked two more hours (the money earning kind) – i hand-washed my favourite dress – changed my sheets – made ginger sirup – wrote a couple of paragraphs for my phd – had a couple of interesting thoughts for my phd – counted some obscure words in some novels for my phd – spent some tender loving care on my bicycle – and now i am off to dinner and two more exciting football games – and i will most definitely fall asleep with a smile for the moon – that is, if she shows her face, otherwise i’ll have to make do with a dance in the ever present rain


i really like this poem by one of my favourite playwrights – george bernard shaw – it is such fun to try and read it out aloud and very satisfying if you think you can manage to pronounce it right
If you can correctly pronounce every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world. After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

B. Shaw