Sunday, September 24, 2006

I wish I was a girl sleuth

I've always been a bit of a crime fan. Let me clarify: Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes, Dalziel and Pascoe, Inspector Morse - I have always really enjoyed crime novels. One of the books I'm currently reading is by Jim Butcher and features a character called Harry Dresden. Harry's a private detective of the classical kind: surrounded by puzzling cases that he just can't crack wide enough to break open, beautiful women in tight dresses playing fast and loose with the truth and quick-talking guys with shotgun fists and concrete jaws. A sheer feast of metaphors and a slew of similes, of course. But there's one difference, Harry is a wizard (not for the first time, but we're a long way from Potter here, unless there was a Hogwarts staffroom orgy I missed somewhere around book 3) and he solves his cases using magic. I'm on book one and I sense a new addiction coming on, and a long reading list including Dashiel Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and, I'm reliably informed, Jim Thompson. I'll keep you posted.

It has been a tres relaxing weekend. I had a list of tasks as tall as the house I live in and I had the weekend planned down to the last second. Of course, the plan evaporated as soon as Saturday morning appeared. The wheels fell clean off my schedule, I left it by the side of the road and continued on foot - and it’s been one of the most peaceful breaks I’ve had in ages. What’s that saying – If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans? She must think I’m her personal court jester right now.

Last night I hung out with Shonagh over at her house, there’s something about that place that is so relaxing, or maybe it’s something to do with the company. I’ve known Shon for about twenty years or so and it’s one of the luckiest phenomena in my life that we can still sit for four hours, talking incessantly and never running out of things to say. It can be easy to take people for granted, and yet every time I see her, I come away reconsidering aspects of the world, and asking new questions of myself.

My friend Kate has been staying with me this weekend, another of my closest friends. We spent the last couple of days lazing around the flat, doing some light shopping, cooking food and listening to music. It’s been a really girly weekend and even the PMT has had a hard time competing with it. Except, that is, during the earlier hours of this morning, when I woke in so much pain that I began to wonder if I had possibly carried a pregnancy to term and not realised (I’m no Kate Moss, I thought, but surely I’d have noticed?) – I mean it! I lay there desperately racking my brains trying to remember, what was I doing nine months ago at around this time – think, girl, think! When was the last time you got lucky? In the end I took some ibuprofen and fell back to sleep, unexpected childbirth crisis averted. What a relief.

I’m not sure where the weekend’s gone, but I think I need to make sure that there is time in my life that’s just ripe for wasting: no plans, no working, just good clean relaxation and fun! I tread this fine line right now between panicking that I should be working every hour I’m not asleep or on the toilet and trying to maintain some semblance of an existence that includes family and friends. There are still so many people I haven’t spoken to since I came back from the States – you know who you are and I am so very sorry. I am not ignoring you and I will return your calls!!

And talking of private detectives, we're all familiar with the Sam Spade archetypes of this world (if you're not, google it, it's what it was invented for), but what about the Girl Sleuths? Hmmmmmmm? One of the cool things I became addicted to while Kate was napping this afternoon was a computer game called Nancy Drew, Dangerous Design. It’s one of those simple detective games for the computer, nothing like my brother and ex-boyfriend, true gamers, play. I’m crap at any game where something shoots at me/I have to shoot at something, and, for the record, I can’t stand Tiger Woods fucking golf. Nancy Drew is as far as I go, and that far mostly because she’s a cultural icon and it’s just like interacting with a novel. I had a great Sherlock Holmes one last year, but don’t get me started.

I love Nancy Drew, well actually, I've never read a Nancy Drew, so let me clarify that. I love the idea of Nancy Drew, I love the idea of being a girl sleuth and once I've read one (I feel a trip to the library coming on), I'll let you know if I love the real McDrew. I didn't know that although the original 30 Drew mysteries are credited to a woman called Carolyn Keene, they were actually ghost-written (23 of them by a writer called Mildred Benson). If, like me, you are a big reader and intrigued by the idea of the Girl Sleuth, then check out the reading recommendations that have been hunted down by Colleen Mondor I can't find any Nancy Drew on the library catalogue, so I'll have to stalk a friendly librarian the next time I'm at Central.

Kate interrupted my sobbing in the kitchen as I was serving dinner this evening. I had just been listening to Radio 4 (yes, I'm 60 inside) and I heard the shocking grief in Elizabeth Davidson's statement delivered in court this week, describing her grief at the loss of her daughter. Dr Margaret Davidson, 26 years old, was killed by a speeding driver and her mother's words were a plea for tougher sentencing on dangerous driving. The comment over at today's Observer asks some more fundamental questions about our obsession with speed,,1879804,00.html

I thought Elizabeth Davidson's statement was beautifully written, a vivid portrait of Margaret to all those who were not lucky enough to know her, and an amazing indictment of a mother's strength, love for, and determination to honour, her daughter.


Anonymous said...

like so many needless wasteful deaths, for me the hardest thing to deal with is the total lack of ownership that the perpetrators show for their deeds. They almost always seem to think that they are where they are due to some cosmic piece of bad luck! Personally, I have no faith in inprisonment as a punishment, for every jail sentence is finite whereas the victim is dead forever. Would it not be better to give the guilty the same choice as the victim? Personally I would sentence them to the same fate! I wonder if there absence would cause the same heartache?

Bridget said...

Hi Sarah,

Got back from holiday to find your email about the new blog. Great. Now I carry on being hooked. Thanks!

I too heard Elizabeth Davidson on Pick of the Week. I cried too. I have a feeling that many Radio 4 listners all over the country were also crying. It was such a courageous thing to do - and as you say, so beautifully written.

Keep on posting!

Love Bridget X

Colleen said...

Hi Sarah:

I just read another girl sleuth recently that was big fun - Nancy Springer's "Case of the Missing Marquess" - starring Sherlock Holmes's much much younger sister. It is the first in a series and put a big smile on my face throughout - she's pitch perfect all the way and I loved it.