Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Waiting for new tyres...

Waiting for new van tyres... which always means a protracted dalliance with the free coffee machine at Kwik-Fit... so having progressed some work emails, I'm now blogging on the smartphone, which means I don't have the full range of facilities and I don't know what I'm doing, in short.

Two of the photos below show a splendid swathe of Meadow Fescue that I discovered in Lydiard Fields, a retail park just off the M4 Jct 16. The day after I took the photo it was all close-mown.

I'm still worrying about a statement I made a couple of posts ago when I claimed that there are only about 25 really common grasses in the UK. I now think the figure must be more like 50. Let's pass the time making a little list of standard grasses of lowland neutral Britain...

Annual, Smooth and Rough Meadow-grass.
Barren brome, Lop Grass.
Hairy brome, False brome.
Fern grass.
Red, Sheeps, Tall , Meadow and Giant Fescue.
Rat's-tail Fescue.
Sweet vernal grass.
Meadow Foxtail. Timothy.
Crested Dogstail.
Yorkshire Fog.
Tufted Hair-grass.
Creeping Bent.
Wild Oat.
Black grass.
Perennial rye grass.
Wall barley.

On chalk: Upright Brome, Tor grass, Quaking grass.

Well, thats 29 just off the top of my head, and it doesn't include aquatic or acid or coastal habitats, nor alien species some of which are now very common, so clearly I've seriously understated the numbers.


Still waiting for the tyres  Regular readers know how I've been hunting for years for the more obscure volumes of Sir Walter Scott. A month or so back, I took a shortcut and, at the cost of 99p and in less than 30 seconds, downloaded Scott's complete works on to my phone.

In one way this still seems almost miraculous. All 25 novels, all the poems, all the plays, the journal, the life of Dryden, all those miscellaneous things. ...

And above all the massive Life of Buonaparte, which I'm reading now.

Of course it isn't quite the same thing as having the books on your shelf. These hasty Kindle texts are produced by OCR scanning. Text errors are frequent; around four on every screen. The Kindle-izer has no conception of footnotes (which are numerous in the Life of Buonaparte), so these are merely absorbed into the main text, hence the reader  is constantly being interrupted in mid sentence and diverted into a new .. or often a continuation of a ...  secondary issue that is being discussed in parallel in the notes.

The version I'm reading begins with suspicious directness: there is no sign of the "Preliminary View of the French Revolution". Nevertheless, I've pursued the young  Buonaparte from Corsica to Toulon to the Alps to Revolutionary Paris, all with the utmost delight..

I certainly wouldn't  recommend reading through one of Scott's great novels in this format... great literature deserves to be savoured on paper. But when, as in the case of the Life of Buonaparte, I never really expected to read it or even see it in my whole life, I can feel nothing but good things about that 99p impulse buy.

Book paper has become a political issue. In Canada , the latest industry (in the wake of Trump and Brexit) to try and break the environmentalists is the loggers. .. in this case industry giant Resolute Forest Products. (They are suing Greenpeace.) Naturally RFP indirectly supply paper to the big book publishers, such as Penguin, who use it to publish books for environmentally concerned progressives like myself.

Forestry and environmentalism should always go together. In Sweden that is often achieved.  So which face is Canada going to show the world on this one? Joni and Neil, or tar sands? Nordic style social responsibility, or pioneer redneck hack and slash? These are media cliches, but Trudeau, we will be watching you....

Anglo-Saxon interlace pattern, in tyres.
Meadow Fescue at Lydiard Fields, Swindon
Swathe of Meadow Fescue at Lydiard Fields, Swindon 
momentary collage of dried leaves that fell out of my notebook

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At 8:06 pm, Blogger Vincent said...

Following you with interest, sometimes, in a peculiar kind of way, in your footsteps. e.g. picked up again Eric Linklater's memoir A Year of Space, which opens in Stockholm (c. 1952), where Frans Bengtsson, "the most popular of living Swedish authors", upbraids him for his affection to Stendhal, as he puts it; "one of the worst of British affectations"--to favour French authors above English. He continues:

"Why don't you read a good author, as I do? A good English author?"

"What are you reading?

"Peter Simple. You don't think much of Captain Marryat, I suppose?"

At which point I stopped reading Linklater and downloaded Marryat's complete works to Kindle. Exactly the kind of easy read that suits me these days in odd moments. So much lighter than Scott & even Dickens.

At 8:50 pm, Blogger Michael Peverett said...

I have sympathy with Linklater's tastes... I love Stendhal myself, -- he was a great admirer of Napoleon, so that's another strange link with what I wrote.

(If you are looking for an easy read, then I do recommend Frans Bengtsson's marvellous popular classic Röde Orm, about the Vikings, translated into English as The Long Ships.)

Nevertheless I also applaud you for downloading Marryat, and I hope you get a lot of enjoyment from it. So much of what is good in reading depends on a little spark of connection between the reader and the author. If we can find a universe in a grain of sand (vague recollection of Blake), how much more must that be true of a book, even if it isn't by an author who is considered "great" according to some social canon.


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