Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2007

Doris Lessing was the first strong female author I read. As a teenager I read The Golden Notebook, and encouraged others to do so as well. Every time I lent my copy out the borrower would keep it and buy me a new, pristine copy, claiming it was too battered to return, this happened at least 3 times, so I thought of the book as ever more magical.

I read all the Martha Quest novels, I struggled with some of her sci-fi (I’m not so great with sci-fi, no matter how brilliantly written it is, unless it’s Buffy or Angel, which I don’t count as being part of the oeuvre, despite the monsters/demons and so on!) I lapped up the book about an old lady that Ms Lessing submitted anonymously to publishers to prove that a literary name counted over decent writing, and had rejected!

I decided that when/if I am old she is who I would like to look like, grey hair in a bun, intelligent but with a softness, a wrinkled face that shows the life that one has led, the things one has seen.

And then I forgot all about her!

How on earth did I manage that?

I remember noticing a book of cats.

Anyway, this wonderful author has won the Nobel prize for literature (and I think, how is it that she didn’t before now?) The Swedish Academy describe her as “that epicist of the female experience who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny.”
On being informed by reporters who waited outside her house she apparently said “I’ve won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I’m delighted to win them all. It’s a royal flush,” and sat on her doorstep, fresh from shopping for groceries.

She is 88 on October 22nd, which should be irrelevant, and yet seems wonderful (she was out shopping, and she’s 87 and still witty and sharp, hurrah, or is that ageist?)

Anyway, I feel very pleased.

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A silly quiz, just because…

You’re Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you’re
actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their
assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they
build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You’d
be recognized as such if you weren’t always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Which is all rather disappointing. I am certain that I can’t possibly be Watership Down!

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Pumpkins, big ones!

In the Observer music monthly this week there was an article on alternate careers that various famous musicians have embarked on.
Jim Martin is now a big pumpkin grower. No, I should rephrase, he grows enormous pumpkins and enters them into competitions. Big, sick, Jim Martin, formerly of Faith No More (the mighty, majestic band who influenced well, a gazillion other bands, none of whom can compare.)

I have copied this from

The former rocker works in a property management company with his family. For six months straight though, he spends every spare moment tending the gourds. The only other crop he grows is peas. Why? “I love peas. I stand out here and eat them,” he said. “They never make it up to the house.” Martin lives with his wife of four years, Rain, and their 2-year-old son, Napali. Martin could never grow such huge pumpkins without her, he said. “I bring him beer and cigarettes,” she said, laughing. “From the time he’s home until he goes to bed he’s out in the patch. Whatever he’s doing in life, he focuses on it. He’s happier growing pumpkins than being in the office. He likes to see them grow and likes going out on his tractor.” When it’s time to remove the pumpkins from the patch, it takes the help of more than a dozen people. Rain Martin cooks stew and pumpkin pies for them, and keeps the beer flowing, all while chasing Napali. Most of Martin’s friends and relatives don’t understand his passion, but fellow competitors do. There is a community of about 20 serious growers in the Northwest who Martin sees at contests and conferences. The Martins are quiet about Jim’s 1980s and early’90s rock days, but the secret got out anyway. “People are mentioning it to me,” Martin said. “I didn’t want it to get out, but it did, so what can you do?” Martin likes to live in the present. “It took a lot of time to recover from those years,” he said. “It was an awful lot of work. No weekends, no settling, no family. You hear about how glamorous being in a successful band is, but it’s not everything you might think it would be.” Martin looked toward his patch again and said, “Music is what fit then, this is what fits now.” He comes from a long line of farmers and was interested in big pumpkins since childhood. “I’d see them on TV and think, ‘I wonder if I could do that,'” he said. He’s been growing pumpkins for five years and was successful almost immediately. It takes an incredible amount of work from May through October. The pumpkins can grow up to 30 pounds a day, and the tangled mass of vines around them can each grow 2 feet a day. The pumpkins are fenced off from predators and are protected by a tent at night. The pumpkins Martin grows taste great, but the big ones can’t be eaten; the poisonous pesticide he uses is systemic. “I look at them and sure, I feel satisfaction,” Martin said. “Growing these isn’t all that different than what I used to do in music. If you want to be good you have to give it what it needs.” And you also need good soil. Martin said he has the best in California. “Isn’t it obvious,” the generally serious man asked with a grin as he looked at his award winning pumpkin. “I mean, there’s the proof.” 1,087 pounds of it.

There’s something so wonderfully nutty about this. I love that he only grows peas and pumpkins, and gets completely obsessed for 6 months a year, just taking his tractor out and watching them. I mean, think about that, he watches pumpkins grow! And he says he used to watch big pumpkins on tv and wonder if he could do that. How supremely random an ambition. Dude, I grew an oversized vegetable. Yay.
I am fascinated with people who devote themselves to one specialist area. Jim Martin…big and sick, I salute ya!

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