Monday, 27 March 2000

Entry #26

Listening to:
Mozart, string quartet in B flat major, K458
Just read:
(Incidentally, I embrace and welcome the ambiguity of the two meanings of "read"; consider "reed" and "red".) Elton, England under the Tudors. I've learnt all about Elizabeth I, the ridiculous end of Essex, Drake's circumnavigation of the world (only the second ever), and a whole panoply of other bits and pieces.

Perhaps one of the most interesting bits was the discussion of the English wars with Spain. Elton points out that English successes against a declining empire (Spain was in the middle of losing its Dutch territories) didn't necessarily mean that Spain was an easy target. In fact, after initial successes by the likes of Drake in the New World, the English really only had the success of repelling the Spanish Armada. Their own attempts to do something similar failed miserably. Elton thinks that the English were too ready to believe that Spain was a spent force, when it was in fact still the strongest European power.

To read:
Terry Pratchett's Hogfather. Just in case you thought I only read serious stuff. Pratchett is a good writer. I've come to dislike Granny Weatherwax a little; she seems too perfect and too powerful. She may be shown up in Carpe Jugulum, which I've started, but which is now on the official back-burner. I disliked the way in which she had to come out on top at the end of Witches Abroad. I think Pratchett could have just as easily allowed the witch native to the New Orleans setting to triumph.
Heard on the radio this morning that the film American Beauty (which I wrote about on the 16th last month) has won five Oscars.

Talking of Oscar-winning films, I've been amused recently by two humorous references to The English Patient. (Just got to love the way Miramax's web-site index of film names treats initial pronouns "an", "the" and the like as significant.) Anyway, one reference is a scathing reference to George W. Bush's way with words in Doonesbury. The other is the alleged use of the term by BMW executives to refer to the parlous state of their (English) ex-subsidiary Rover. If the state of their web-site is anything to go by, it's no surprise that BMW wanted to get rid of them.