Soundtrack to the Week

sensual world

Kate Bush, The Sensual World (1989)

Not one of my favourite Kate Bush albums, but it’s grown on me in recent years. Top track: ‘The Sensual World

lost in space

Aimee Mann, Lost in Space (2002)

I absolutely love this album. The songs are sad, but for some reason I find it comforting. Top track: The Moth

boatman's call

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Boatman’s Call (1997)

So much bellyaching about various relationship breakups on this album. Love it though, except for ‘Green Eyes’. Top tracks ‘Lime Tree Arbour‘ and, if I really want some misery, ‘Where do we go now but nowhere?’

cowboy junkies

Cowboy Junkies, 200 More Miles: Live Performances 1985 – 1994 

I first came across the Cowboy Junkies through the track ‘Me and the Devil‘ which was on the soundtrack to teen angst movie Pump Up the Volume (1990).  I thought they were so cool and my local library had this on CD, which was a surprise. Later, they turned out to be the first band that I went to see with my girlfriend – mainly because Mary Gauthier was also playing, but hey.  Top track: Sweet Jane.

nocturnes

Uh huh Her, Nocturnes (2011)

Fun lesbian electronica. Top track: Another Case 

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Soundtrack to the Week

Lanegan

Mark Lanegan, Blues Funeral (2012)

Swampy, dirgy, kind of synthpoppy rock. What a voice.

Black Francis, Sven fngrs (2008) and Frank Black, Frank black  (1993)

I had a Frank Black afternoon the other day. Sven Fngrs is dark and punky, while Frank Black is more of a surf rock album.

murder

Johnny Cash, Murder (2000)

I always play this at the beginning of winter.

Weekend musings

Image shows a savoury tart in a round tin. The filling is yellow and browned on top.

I made this egg and bacon tart on Saturday. I haven’t baked a tart in years because I’m terrible at pastry. This time around, I decided not to risk doing it myself and used a box of ready-made shortcrust. I still messed it up a bit. The pastry started tearing and then it shrank in the tin, so I patched it up and ta daa! Well, the filling was tasty.  The recipe comes this book, Good Food The Collection: 480 + Triple-tested recipes which is very reliable.

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Hot Summer Evening Mixtape

The Many Ways in which we are Wrong about Jane Austen

She never expected to be read the way we read her, gulped down as escapist historical fiction, fodder for romantic fantasies. Yes, she wanted to be enjoyed; she wanted people to feel as strongly about her characters as she did herself. But for Jane a story about love and marriage wasn’t ever a light and frothy confection. Generally speaking, we view sex as an enjoyable recreational activity; we have access to reliable contraception; we have very low rates of maternal and infant mortality. None of these things were true for the society in which Jane lived. The four of her brothers who became fathers produced, between them, 33 children. Three of those brothers lost a wife to complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Another of Jane’s sisters-in-law collapsed and died suddenly at the age of 36; it sounds very much as if the cause might have been the rupturing of an ectopic pregnancy, which was, then, impossible to treat. Marriage as Jane knew it involved a woman giving up everything to her husband—her money, her body, her very existence as a legal adult. Husbands could beat their wives, rape them, imprison them, take their children away, all within the bounds of the law. Avowedly feminist writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft and the novelist Charlotte Smith were beginning to explore these injustices during Jane’s lifetime. Understand what a serious subject marriage was then, how important it was, and all of a sudden courtship plots start to seem like a more suitable vehicle for discussing other serious things.

No more than a handful of the marriages Jane depicts in her novels are happy ones. And with the possible exception of Pride and Prejudice, even the relationships between Jane’s central characters are less than ideal—certainly not love’s young dream. Marriage mattered because it was the defining action of a woman’s life; to accept or refuse a proposal was almost the only decision that a woman could make for herself, the only sort of control she could exert in a world that must very often have seemed as if it were spiraling into turmoil. Jane’s novels aren’t romantic. But it’s become increasingly difficult for readers to see this.

My favourite paragraphs from Helena Kelly’s fantastic essay, The Many Ways in Which we are Wrong about Jane Austen 

5 Things – This is Halloween edition

The Jack O’ Lantern is carved. The lentil soup and roast sweet potatoes are cooking. Time to post a few things I’ve been saving for Halloween.

Ada Calhoun, The Sisters Who Spoke to Spirits

The spirits are the least disturbing thing in this essay about the Fox sisters, whose table-rapping ways kicked off the phenomenal popularity of Spiritualism in the nineteenth century. So much weirdness here.

Documentary, Ghosts on the Underground (2006)

This documentary about spooky experiences on the London Underground terrified me when I first saw it several years ago. I hunted it down last year for a Halloween watch with my partner and was pleased to find it just as creepy as I remembered.

Roger Clarke, A Natural History of Ghosts, 500 Years of Hunting for Proof

Roger Clarke’s book is an enjoyable ramble around the last five hundred years of belief in ghosts. Most of the hauntings get debunked, but what they reveal about social history and the psychology of the people involved is fascinating.

M.R. James, ‘Oh, whistle, and I’ll come to you, my lad’ and ‘A Warning to the Curious

I love the ghost stories of M.R. James and re-read them all every few years, but I think these two are my favourites. They have given me a life-long dislike of sleeping in twin-bedded hotel rooms and walking along misty beaches on my own, but I feel they are worth it.

Vitamin String Quartet, This is Halloween

Just a great cover of a great song.