I'm on a bit of a roll today. Firstly, I got an email this afternoon from Scott Pack (he's "Me And My Big Mouth" on my blog list recommendation over there on the right). My name came out of his hat after I left a comment on his blog to receive a copy of a book he has just published - The Evolution Of Inanimate Objects. I'm really looking to reading it. Scott's also running a project to send handwritten notes to anyone who asks for one so I've asked him to put one in with the book. It seems that there's an upsurge in reviving the art of handwriting letters at the moment and the Guardian highlighted this in an article today. Scott's project gets a mention there too so I imagine his pen will soon be smoking. I'd offer to write a personal note to any blog readers who want one if I thought anybody would be able to read it.
My second bit of good news came to light when I checked the UKDetectornet Forum to find that my Roman gold clasp did top their Artifact of the year poll when it closed last week so I'm in line to receive a subscription to a detecting magazine. I'm giving a talk to a village society near one of my favourite detecting spots on 15th February so that will give me something to mention. I've done a power point presentation - never done one of those before so I hope I don't fall flat on my face. Okay so it's not exactly winning the lottery but maybe it's an omen for me to get my entry to that novel competition I mentioned the other day posted.
We're looking forward to hearing Caroline Smailes talk at Birkdale Library tomorrow. I read Black Boxes last week. After the excellent In Search Of Adam and Like Bees To Honey, I wondered what surprises Caroline had in store this time and was not disappointed. She has to be one of the most original authors writing today. Black Boxes is possibly even grimmer than In Search Of Adam but it's extremely hard to put it down. There's fascinating use of words as almost an art form on the page together with the only example of sign language in a novel that I've ever come across. It's highly recommended reading as long as you aren't feeling depressed and, as someone who once helped on a suicide helpline, I found the tone very authentic. She will be talking about Like Bees To Honey tomorrow; although it has death as a central theme, it is a walk in the park compared to Caroline's other novels.
This week's Orange Wednesday trip was The Descendants. As you might guess from the title it's all about family and the film entwines several relationship threads around the story of George Clooney's wealthy Hawaiian lawyer Matt King whose wife is in a coma and about to be disconnected from life support. Clooney's tearaway seventeen year old daughter Alex (brilliantly played by Shailene Woodley), difficult ten year old Scottie (Amara Miller) and Alex's friend Sid (Nick Krause) make up the heart of the cast and I loved the way that the characters evolved in response to the situation the family finds itself in. The extended family is involved in a multi million dollar real estate deal involving inherited land and King as the last surviving trustee has the final say on what goes on. Throw in an affair, an alpha male father-in-law and Alzheimer's suffering mother-in-law and you've almost got a full house of relationship issues. Director Alexander Payne handles these well and Clooney gives a beautifully understated performance which I found touching. I'm surprised that the film didn't rate higher with the critics (only averaging three stars in most of the broadsheets) but perhaps it was just a bit too nice. It is classed as a "comedy drama" and, although it did have some of the audience laughing, I felt that the laughter was out of place.
And the subject of family leads me seamlessly to an opportunity to leave you today with this wonderful little family video.