The Aardvark Blog
Good Friday Blog
Good Friday Blog
First off many apologies, all my good intentions to blog more regularly have gone out of the window recently as we have been fairly full on just fulfilling orders and listing new titles. A big thank you to Rachel for helping me during this insane time when the rest of the team including Ethel have been on furlough ( or as they call it in France Chomage Partiel). On a side topic why does everything sound way cooler in French.
This has been an odd time for me personally as I have had to visit Ethel in her lockdown castle ( think Rampunzel but with shorter hair). Very odd and less romantic than would seem in a movie. Speaking of movies do catch up with the new series of Mark Kermode's investigation of movie archetypes etc. Last night was Rom Coms. Included some favourites and some I didn't know - can't wait to catch up with Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda in 'The Lady Eve'. Still many great movies missing. No Irene Dunne! All those Meg Ryan movies and no room for 'Addicted to Love'. Too much Richard Curtis but that is just a personal preference.
Also fantastic on the goggle box and Iplayer has been Waldemar Januszczak's series just ended on the mysteries behind great paintings. All brilliant but weirdly the stand out was on Gauguin's 'Jacob Wrestling with the Angel'. A painting which I have always loved but now realise I never understood. Plus almost everything I thought I knew about Gauguin was wrong. Plus Bernard Williams - a personal hero - used Gauguin in 'Moral Luck' - and based his theory on a flawed analogy. Who knew.
Also on the GB have just finished watching the last episodes of the six series of 'Justified'. A very insightful review of J in the Hollywood Reporter describes it as a Southern Gothic story which is below the best of long form series, but which possesses two of the best characters ( and performances ) ever captured on TV. This i think is a fair assessment and it was a pleasure to watch a series whose ending was on a par with the series as a whole ( not too sentimental, but not too bleak). Finally if you are at a loose end and can find it on one of the streaming services why not watch the greatest series ever made: 'Friday Night Lights'. Fantastic acting, brilliant scripts and also a perfect ending.
In this time of strangeness my taste in music seems to have altered and I can no longer bear to listen to much of my favourite music. This sadly is not a time for Beethoven, or even Chet Baker. Yes to Miles, Yes to Mahler and definite yes to Mozart, Handel and Rossini. No to Bartok, Janacek and Stravinsky. Definite yes to Copeland, Elgar ( yes I surprise myself), Walton and Finzi. On Sunday when I have my first day off for weeks I am going to try Ellington, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins. Wish me luck.
It seems strange to leave books until the end of this blog, but I confess that I am having difficulty concentrating on a single book at the moment. I have started 'Peacocks in Paradise - yes I am ashamed not to have read it before - but am only a third of the way through. The new Lindsey Davies is similar uncompelling. I have it is true been working my way steadily through my backlog of New Yorkers which takes up quite a long time, but the truth is t hat I am finding it hard to settle on a single book. Stephen told me the other day that he was re-reading Carl Hiaasen and perhaps that would be a good idea. I was also wondering about starting Agatha Christie from the beginning and just working through chronologically ending with the spacey sixties ones. But this seems something of a cop out. The last few days have felt a little better and I have been spending time following thoughts and looking through some of my numerous art books. Remembering exhibitions and thinking about works and artists that have meant a lot to me ( Waldemar J has a lot to answer for). Good times will return and even if they don't in time we will all find our equilibrium.
Another odd thing has been keeping up with members of the Aardvark team who are furloughed and staying at home. Katy S has been producing some wonderful art, whilst others have been cooking, gardening or in some cases going a big stircrazy. What joy it will be when we are all re-united and how precious the kind of companionship we have had here other the years with different Varkinistas has been.
Finally I would like to end by recounting a conversation from yesterday. We had two orders come in for the same title online - a rare occurrence but one that does happen every few months. We were forced to cancel one order and in the afternoon I got a strong email and later a telephone call from the aggrieved party. After a few minutes of explanation and apology we began a wider conversation. He then apologised to me for phoning up and I found myself genuinely thanking him. At the moment when R and I are trapped in our hermetic bookshop even a telephone call of complaint seems like a win. I have realised above all over the last few weeks that I don't run a bookshop because I love books - although I do - but mostly because I love people. It is hard without seeing our regulars and talking to new customers, and liberation cannot come soon enough.
So this Easter find time for joy as well as reflection. Books can help but ultimately friends and family are the greatest consolation.
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