Week-end: harrowing of/hell/of the North

Purply-blue grape hyacinths growing in grass next to a bush with bright green new growth

The good

Easter! Alleluia! I can’t help comparing with last year and seeing how much more with it I am now than I was then. Granted, every excursion outside the house demands a nap later in the day, but I am, for example, quite capable of doing the Walk of Witness followed by the Three Hours – rather than reclining on the sofa watching the liturgy on YouTube. And it was particularly good to make it to the Easter Vigil last night and find some friends who were there to support confirmation candidates from their parishes.

And this is only the beginning of a week’s holiday (not that I am going anywhere).

The mixed

It hit me this week that the bulk of the big comms projects is… done. Of the three major documents that needed revising and redesigning, one’s done and published, one’s at the printers’ now, and one’s there but for some tiny edits. Oh, there are plenty of small bits to tidy up, and the comms only accounted for half of the stuff I want to get wrapped up before I go on maternity leave, but I’m noticing that I’m transitioning into a ‘before I go on maternity leave’ mindset, and that’s a little disconcerting. It’s all coming up rather fast.

This morning, the cat ate a rose leaf, made some alarming noises, brought the rose leaf (but nothing else) back up again, and was wandering around with it caught in her fluffy tail. I have now removed it.

The difficult and perplexing

I am wobbling a bit about whether I will ever finish a book ever again. That’s something to get my head around this week.

Also missing the family somewhat – they were all here last year! – but will be seeing them all pretty soon.

Also [way TMI, so I won’t tell you].

What’s working

Naps, still.


Different books for different circumstances. Seven Ages of Paris (Alistair Horne) on the train: rather tediously blokey in parts, but I am learning more French history than the very vague outline I previously had. She Gets The Girl (Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick) at lunchtime in the office: that rather tedious combination of characters who are more than usually aware of their own shortcomings but apparently incapable of acting on that knowledge. I think this is a Thing in YA, which is where this book probably wants to sit. That aside, it’s interesting to read a campus novel set in the United States and be surprised at the very different norms (how many students have cars, for example, and the assumption that having a roommate is the default).

But really this week’s book has been The Man Born To Be King (Dorothy L. Sayers), a cycle of radio plays she wrote in the early 1940s. I meant to skip straight to the plays, but ended up reading all of the introductions too. I’d read the whole lot before, at university, and revisiting it was amused to note how much it’s shaped my understanding of the Incarnation, and my thinking about the inherent corruptibility of any institution you care to name (really, it’s all I’ve been writing about ever since…). What’s particularly interesting to me is the way she talks about the work that has to go in to turn the curated collections of sayings and happenings that make up the Gospels into what the twentieth century would recognise as a coherent narrative. (Although I don’t think this is entirely missing from the Gospels themselves: I noticed a couple of Christmases back the different, but both extremely relatable, from a writerly point of view, devices that Matthew and Luke employ to get the Holy Family to where they think they ought to be.) The plays themselves feel sometimes very dated and often extremely powerful. I think Sayers makes Judas more complicated than he really needs to be; I dislike the conflation of Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene and the woman who was a sinner; and I’m not sure you’d do the same thing with Nicodemus today; but overall it works.

There was the usual OH DLS NO for the usual reasons. It’s fascinating, in an infuriating kind of way, how the gratuitous offensiveness seems to come from a place of affection. (I’m thinking here of the way she talks about her characterisation of Matthew – I’m not going to quote it – but Matthew comes across as one of the most likeable characters in the whole thing and I think that’s deliberate.)

I attempted The City of God but, while I think I probably do have the brain for St Augustine, I don’t have the brain for a four hundred year old translation. Can anyone recommend a newer one? I dislike Oxford World Classics for their irritating habit of filling the text with asterisks, but am otherwise open-minded.


Nothing to speak of.

Listening to

Podcasts – not usually my thing, but when I have a repetitive task I quite like having something on to occupy the other half of my brain. The Ffern podcast is a favourite; I’ve also been enjoying Maintenance Phase lately.


Messing around with stamps and embossing powder for some cards.


Darned the elbows of a pyjama top, a couple of holes in the legs of the trousers, and most of a pair of socks. (I have only really started getting holes in my pyjama trousers since we acquired a cat. Funny, that.)


Paris-Roubaix Femmes. I do have mixed feelings about filling the hole of Holy Saturday with televised sport but did it anyway. But what a race!


Pasta with vegetable-heavy (though not vegetarian) sauces: first this one, then this one.

In between writing this I’m getting bigos going for tonight. I’m not quite sure when bigos became an Easter tradition (and we didn’t have it last year, because of feeding my mostly-vegetarian family) but it is one now.


Hot cross buns, of course. I also got a Simnel cake (too tired to cook one) and had the first slice after the Vigil last night.


The blackbirds have become very vocal lately; the robins, slightly less so. On Friday there was a right old to-do on the green, with two herring gulls perched on somebody’s roof and shrieking away, a black cat a long way up a tree, but not near enough to get at the crow in the same tree, and a load of black-headed gulls watching the show.

In the garden

The tulips are most definitely blooming now; the apple trees are just beginning to come into leaf; the pear trees are doing leaves and blossom together, starting at the top. A bush that I thought was dead is also producing leaves. There is no sign of the peony, alas.

I’m enjoying seeing other people’s pictures of the progress of spring – internet friends in Japan (some resident, some visiting) sharing the cherry blossom; closer to home, many variations of daffodils, and blossom, and birds – and comparing with my garden.

There is plenty going on in my pot of herbs, though I didn’t label anything so will have to wait until it all gets bigger to find out what’s what. I don’t think the tarragon’s going to come up but the beans and the cosmos seem happy enough.


Spring! Paschal triumph, paschal joy! Friends both on and offline. Cat pictures. And the real cat.


I have ordered a maternity swimsuit.


Much as last week, I think.

Line of the week

DLS in snark mode:

Sacred personages, living in a far-off land and time, using dignified rhythms of speech, making from time to time restrained gestures symbolic of brutality. They mocked and railed on Him and smote Him, they scourged and crucified Him. Well, they were people very remote from ourselves, and no doubt it was all done in the noblest and most beautiful manner. We should not like to think otherwise.

Sunday snippet

As noted, I barely wrote anything, so you get a few lines of angst about whether I am in fact capable of writing anything…

  1. I’m very tired.
  2. It’s Holy Week.
  3. And Paris-Roubaix. I think.
  4. I am worried that I have forgotten how to finish things.
  5. [The memory of picking an apple from a tree, how you simply hold it gently and lift it and it comes away in your hand]

This coming week

Sleep. Various appointments (haircut; midwife). General life admin. Maybe test the new swimsuit when it arrives. Get the study into some sort of order so that it can become something else entirely when the time comes.

Anything you’d like to share from this week? Any hopes for next week? Share them here!