That’s me. My pleas for payment have all been ignored, yet again. Grr. I feel some begging phone calls coming on tomorrow… What is really annoying is that I am still working flat out but my bank account feels like I have been unemployed for months. My bank manager is being understanding but his patience will be exhausted if some money doesn’t arrive in my account soon.
The good news is that I managed to get to Milton Keynes on Friday, thanks to a loan from my generous friend Wonderful, so I could hand in my ECA before the midnight deadline. I’ve been so busy with work that it amazes me that I’ve actually finished, I nearly dropped out in January for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I wasn’t enjoying myself. But thanks to some support from the OU I got there and I actually enjoyed writing my ECA – which doesn’t mean that anyone will actually enjoy reading it! But its all over and I’ve got the first summer for four years free of study and I can hardly wait.
I have of course been reading all the way through this, mainly old favourites as my brain couldn’t cope with anything new – I’ve added to the list at the side of the blog. But my reading has slowed down, which is never a good sign.
I have to particularly recommend one book, The Helene Hanff Omnibus. I was prompted to pick this up by Table Talk’s reference to 84, Charing Cross Road in her blog. If you have never read 84, Charing Cross Road, do. Its a wonderful collection of letters, showing how friendships can form from the simplest thing. The other books in the Omnibus include Underfoot in Show Business which details Hanff’s attempts to become a playwright in New York, as she says of producer’s ‘…if they take you to lunch they don’t want your play.’ 84, Charing Cross Road is just superb. The Duchess of Bloomsbury is Hanff’s diary of her first visit to London following the success of 84, Charing Cross Road, she met Frank Doel’s wife, Nora, for the first time and I love how Nora insists on calling her ‘Helen’.
My particular favourite in the Omnibus is Apple of My Eye, as Helene and her friend Patsy explore New York. It’s hard not to be moved when Helene describes their visit to the World Trade Center and how she ‘gloried in the high-handed, high-flying, damn-your-eyes audacity that had sent the Trade Center’s twin columns rising impudently above the skyline at the moment when New York was declared to be dying, and so deep in debt it couldn’t afford workers to dispose of the Center’s trash, police its plaza or put out its fires.’ Long may that audacity reign!
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch was, via his writings, Helene’s mentor and a champion of plain English and Q’s Legacy is her tribute to him and also narrates her adventures on two later trips to London. She describes an encounter in Winchester Cathedral, which I recognise ‘… I started down a long side aisle … with one eye on the stone graves I was walking on. That’s how I came on Jane Austen’s grave. To look down at a spot in a stone floor and know that Jane lies buried beneath can shake you.’ It does. But only when you know just who Jane Austen was and what she achieved in her short life.
Sadly the Omnibus is out of print, but copies are still in circulation, try Helene she’s amazing…