Before anything else... thank you for your response to my last post. When I started to read your comments I felt guilty... as though I was courting your compliments... which couldn't have been further from the truth. I was just having a slight crisis of confidence that I might be boring the pants off you with endless baking. But I appreciate you taking time to respond, I appreciate your kindness and most of all I appreciate your advice. And so there will only be one blog from me for the time being...
As well as baking, one of the other things I have been doing a lot of recently is reading. Sometimes I have more time for this than others and I tend to read more in the darker mornings. Most days Stewart leaves to catch an early train and brings me up a cup of tea about 6 am. I sit up in bed with my cuppa and a book until it is light enough to get up and walk the dog. The longer is stays dark the more I read. Although I have been devouring fiction at a rate of knots, this year I have particularly enjoyed biographical tales. Not those celebrity type 'kiss and tell' tomes that appear at this time of year, but books about people with an interesting story to tell. I am a great fan of Grayson Perry; I admire his work immensly and think that among the contemporary art world he stands alone against the pretentious clap trap that accompanies much modern art. He speaks a lot of common sense, comes across as a thoroughly decent chap and he makes the most fascinating art. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl is an intellegent story of his formative years. And despite a childhood that was far from easy, it is an uplifting tale of success, filled with the wonderful intellegence, wit and the characteristic insight that accompanies Perry's work.
Another story of success despite a difficult childhood is the autobiography of Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal. I read her semi-autobiographical novel Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit many years ago and this latest book fills in the gaps between the truth and the fiction and makes for a fascinating read, often sad but ultimately an inspiring story of a search for identity.
One Man and his Bike was an unlikely read for me. When I was in Devon recently I had a couple of hours to kill on my own in Paignton. As well as the usual chains and the surfeit of charity shops there was a wonderful little independent book shop where I happily spent most of my free time. After browsing the shelves for so long, I felt I ought to buy something and for some reason this book appealed to me. One day, Mike Carter, a freelance journalist, feeling that he needed a change in his life, got on his bike in London and followed the Thames out to sea to embark on a 5,000 mile bike ride around Britain's coastline. It is a funny, often hilarious tale of adventure and discovery, kindness and generosity and a country of which we should be proud.
And my latest biographical read has been Julie and Julia which as you know I have found very inspiring. I loved the film inspired by this book but I loved the book more. By her own admission, Julie Powell is often foul mouthed and at times totally barking but frequently very funny and her determination and spirit are to be admired. And her husband is a saint!
Four stories about real people with interesting things to say and each one a testimony to the human spirit. Do you have a favourite biographical tale?