My weeks are normally quite straightforward nowadays – work Monday to Friday, shopping in the Big Town Saturdays and recovering Sundays. This week there were a couple of variations to the usual theme!

On Wednesday I had the great delight of a night out at the local Concert Venue to see one of my favourite 80s bands live in concert – Ultravox! It was a grand gig – two long sets of just Ultravox with an interval in the middle. The guys were on great form and played every Ultravox song you could possibly want to hear, including my favourite off the new album “Brilliant”. I missed them on the reunion tours a couple of years ago, so I was *very* pleased they decided to visit the Big Town on this tour. Needless to say, I spent a happy few hours dancing about at the front of the stage in a very undignified manner – and consoling myself with the fact that I was not the oldest, greyest or largest person there and that I was having a whale of a time!

Having tired myself out so that I was looking forward to a nice quiet weekend, Youngest Child decided with two days’ notice that we had to visit the Leicester University open day on Saturday – despite the fact that we have been to Leicester many times and that Middle Child has studied there. I suppose the fact she wants to take a different subject is relevant. So we were up at the crack of dawn on Saturday for a long day of train travelling and traipsing round. There were some good points though (as well as the fact that the visit was a success and Leicester Uni was very pleasing to YC) – I got a lot of reading time on the train and also got to visit my favourite Leicester charity bookshop and as well got to have lunch with Middle Child and her boyfriend! So it was an exhausting day, but a lovely one!

I managed to read the whole of Elizabeth Taylor’s “The Wedding Group” on the journey there (which gave me a good excuse to buy another book, as it was the only one I had brought with me!) and very much enjoyed it and will review when I can get my head together. Meanwhile, here are some thoughts on a couple of books I’ve read this week:

Simenon – The Sailors’ Rendezvous

This is an early Maigret title (1931 I think) and a very good one. A friend of the detective calls in a favour and so instead of his usual holiday destination, Maigret and his wife head north to Fecamp, on the English channel, where the skipper of a fishing trawler called the Ocean has been killed. There is an obvious suspect but no clear motive, and much dark muttering about the ship travelling under an evil eye, accidents and deaths on board and strange behaviour by the upper echelons of the crew. Maigret cannot get clear in his mind what has caused the murder and who did it, despite tracking down a female of suspect morals and her crony. The book’s strength is in a remarkable section at the end where Maigret sits on the vessel and literally *thinks* himself into the mentality of the various characters and works out the solution. A wonderful piece of psychological writing by Simenon and a very satisfying book.

David Garnett – Lady Into Fox/The Man in the Zoo

After reading Simon’s piece on”The Man in the Zoo”  here, I decided to dig my copy of Lady into Fox out for a read – and discovered that alas I must have disposed of it on an ill-advised clear out of books – not good….. So Amazon came to the rescue with a nice little Evergreen Books edition that also contained The Man in The Zoo. I read both short novellas in one sitting and was most impressed – possibly more so with The Man in the Zoo. As a vegetarian (and therefore somewhat anti-hunting) I found the trauma of the poor hero of Lady Into Fox whilst trying to protect his transformed wife from the hounds almost unbearable. But both books were interesting examinations of what makes us human and keeps animals as beasts, and seeing how the zoo specimens reacted to the human member of their community was intriguing. Very clever little stories and most enjoyable!

As mentioned, I hope to post about “The Wedding Group” soon – I thought it was remarkable and one of the Taylors I’ve enjoyed most!