All posts by penwithlit

About penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

One or two people got hurt in the meantime, didn’t they?

Image result for Cartoons of English Kings eating

Along with Gillray or maybe Hogarth,

we like rude cartoons of old kings;

overweight, overbearing and bewigged,

breeches bursting, waistcoats straining at buttons

at table, grasping forks thrust

into grotesquely large mouthfuls of whole chicken.


Thus has our Royal Family delighted us

and so it was today as I sat beside

a girl bearing a willow branch or some such.

Behind me a conversation struck up

in praise of books yet denigrating kindles.

Someone spoke of her favourite detective stories,

“Its a pity when you do know,

half way through who done it,” she paused

“but you have to keep onto the end in case

-you haven’t got it right.”

“I like turning the pages,”

replied he who disparaged modern technology.


“Did you see that programme last night?”

“The Windsors”, “The Palace” or some such

“What he got up to – the ageing Duke

and that other one, the Princess-

No!” and he named her Aunt instead

I began to imagine islands, sun-tanned cougars

behind sunglasses…..

He continued in a sadder tone,

“Yes, she couldn’t be with the one

she wanted to be with…” and went on

plaintively and regretfully describing the Royal lady’s lifestyle

and jazzed up episodes and finished somewhat mournfully,

“One or two people got hurt in the meantime, didn’t they?”

And the bus stopped and I got out and walked away pensively.


#Classic The Quiet American


  • Author: Graham Greene (1904 – 1991)
  • Title:  The Quiet American (210 pg)
  • Genre: novel
  • Published: 1955
  • Trivia: 2019 BBC News lists The Quiet American
  • ….as on of the 100 most influential novels
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan


  1. This was an excellent book. (reading time: 4 hrs)
  2. I needed to detach myself for one day
  3. from the political turmoil on TV #Election2020 USA.
  4. Novels are a means to escape reality…
  5. yet they describe in ‘fiction’ what many don’t want to acknowledge.
  6. I wanted discover Graham Greene’s view of U.S. foreign policy.
  7. USA –>  ill-advised and ill-informed
  8. …sounds still very relevant in 21st C!
  9. Greene portrays the French colonialism and American involvement in the
  10. Vietnam War ….as a love triangle: Fowler – Phoung – Pyle
  11. Central issue: the politics of intervention in a foreign nation.
  12. Strong point:   characters
  13. …Britain (Fowler), America (Pyle), France (Vigot) Vietnam (Phoung)
  14. Fowler:…..repeating “I’m…

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Maigret and the Wine Merchant

Paris bistros and good reading- formidable!!

It's only chemo

If only I could drink like Maigret. Rum for his colds, beer for his thirsts, plum brandy when he feels a bout of the flu coming on. And he eats like a horse. A thoroughbred horse with his own private chef, that is. Madame Maigret sounds like a wonderful chef.

This novel is about work and how we compensate ourselves for the time we spend at the office. The murder is all about the company run by the victim, the solution is to do with the way the business was run and most of the red herrings come from employees. People often say these books are excellent at describing ordinary melancholy, but Simenon is also sharp to the daily grind and the petty reality of office politics. It’s a very #metoo novel.

Maigret is always at work, in a way few literary characters are. He dreams about his case. He…

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Toku à la Maison de la culture du Japon

Vaugment cool et tranquille!

Il y a quelques jours, l’artiste Japonais Toku était à Paris pour un concert très intimiste avec le public français. Il a commencé la soirée par quelques mots en français, puis s’est lancé en anglais en s’excusant de ne pas être très bon francophone.
Les reviews de concert ne sont pas vraiment notre spécialité, mais nous avons apprécié ce moment particulier : dans une salle où tous les spectateurs fermaient les yeux et savouraient chacune des notes qui s’envolaient dans l’espace.

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Covers from the Liberation Collection

These look great- most interesting.

The Liberation Collection consists of over 3000 books published in French between 1944 and 1946. They all share a common subject – the Second World War – and reflect the interest of the collector for book history (quality paper, limited editions, signed copies, etc.); this aside, they differ widely from each other in the way they treat the subject, what they talk about (or don’t talk about), their format, pictorial content, audience, tone and genre. One way to give an insight into the variety of the collection is through its most striking book covers, most of them having been photographed for our thumbnail project. Here is a random sample taken from books catalogued in 2019:


Fiction represents nearly one sixth of the collection. Below are a spy novel, an adventure tale about the life of a fighter pilot and a theatre play about the army draft in France.

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Poetry & Ideas, Text and Images, edited and drawn by Raffaella Torresan

Some interesting lines here.

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Sometimes, it’s just a case of being in the right place at the right time…

The Spouse and I went to a book launch today at the Victorian Artists’ Society in East Melbourne.  The book is called Pictures and Prose, Existentialists and Atheists Speak, and the reason we were interested in this somewhat esoteric publication was because The Spouse is included in it.  As I’m sure readers have gathered by now, he is a man of many interests and from time to time he has given a talk at the Existentialists’ Society (even though he isn’t one of them).  And he was giving a talk there when Melbourne painter, printmaker and photographer Raffaella Torresan was there sketching the presenters and that is why he is in the book which is a collection of talks given at the society.

His talk was titled ‘Skepticism, Science and Scientism, and I don’t…

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Olivia Henry, 2 extraits à découvrir

Sounds sweet!!

«Dans les moments où j’ai eu du mal à trouver l’acceptation en moi-même, je me suis appuyé dans le passé sur l’amour et la validation d’une autre personne pour combler ce vide. Ce genre de besoin est insoutenable, mais humain. Sa douleur, sa tristesse, son désir – un besoin de validation de la valeur. C’est de ce sentiment que dérive cette chanson.»

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Again on business 😙

Lovely and superb sketches!!

Paula Lourenço sketching

I stop sketching for a month and I felt miserable about it. Today even the weather is not bright I took the train to the Lisbon old Aquarium just to sketch.

At the Aquarium . Some Stuffed Dolphins

I hate public transportations but train stations are nice to sketch if you don’t realy feel like going home early.
All Sketches on Stillman&Birn sketchbook, Hero fude fountainpen and Daniel Smith watercolors

And this is why I didn’t want to come home early.

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Les Yeux Noirs- Élisabeth Anaïs

Avec Pomplamoose

Dans tes grands yeux noirs
Je me suis perdu
J’attends un regard
Le coeur suspendu
Je t’aime tellement fort
Toi qui me fais si peur
Est ce un mauvais sort
Ou la mauvaise heure
Et autour de nous
Chantent les tziganes
Tout le monde s’en fout
S’enivre au champagne
Dans tes beaux yeux noirs
Je sombre, mon amour
Et mon désespoir
A leur chant est sourd
Je perds la raison
A chercher tes bras
Brûlant de passion
Viens, embrasse moi
De tes grands yeux noirs,
L’étrange lumière
A nimbé le soir
De tous les mystères
C’est toi que je veux
Je sais que j’ai tort
Je suis malheureux
De t’aimer si fort…

tziganes=Hungarian Gypsy (cf Zigeuner auf Deutsch)

A nimbé le soir= shrouded the evening

Buried for Pleasure, by Edmund Crispin

Edmund Crispin is of course, a nom de plume. Philip Larkin has written an early poem to the fellow. His books are excellent, relaxing reads but occasionally spoilt by a touch of xenophobia.

It's only chemo

Buried for Pleasure is a pastoral murder mystery, with elements of literary criticism, political satire and a good old-fashioned love story to boot. This book must have been part of the inspiration for the TV genre of murders in the village. The ending ties up neatly and predictably for a pastoral story, and if you are not overly worried about the characterisation of consciousness it is wonderful.

The solution is obvious about a third of the way in, but you cannot be sure exactly and there is the vexing question of how it was done. And the murder is committed (and hence the real mystery only kicks in) after it’s obvious who the murderer is.

Crispin gives us the best of both: a plotting ability that squares up to the Golden Age of mystery novels and a prose style derived from Waugh, Wodehouse, Forster. He is most similar to Michael…

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