Five on Friday – things you might have missed

Jelly fish at San Francisco aquariumI’ve seen some great blog posts and articles this week that I wanted to share…

This essay by Miranda Sawyer in The Guardian reduced me to tears. Like her, my fortieth birthday was fine but the ones since have given me more pause for thought. But I remind myself that to have a mid-life panic that there is still so much to do, so many places to see, so many hugs to give my loved ones is a privilege denied to many such as my much-loved brother-in-law. We might be getting older but it’s so much better than the alternative and we should make the most of it. As Miranda says: “Midlife or not, in the end, or in the middle, these are the days of my life. These are the days of your life. And the thing to do – is live them.”

Meg Rosoff’s first novel for adults, Jonathan Unleashed, has just been published and I’m really looking forward to reading it. In this article, also in The Guardian, she talks about the progession of her career and how she has mellowed into writing for adults. One of the things I love about Meg’s work is that she’s unpredictable – I would never have expected her next book to be a comedy for adults given her success as a YA author. Too many writers find them pigeonholed and it’s great that she refuses to be.

The novel I’m writing at the moment begins during World War One where my ambulance-driving heroine is injured. This post from Messy Nessy Chic showing the domesticity of war-time dugouts is bizarre and sad and slightly amusing all at the same time. That people tried to make the horror of it all a little less with tablecloths and even vases of flowers is fascinating. Most of the pictures are from a German archive; I couldn’t find any similar ones of the British trenches but I’d love to know if this home-making is a universal instinct.

At a time when so many bloggers are chasing the goal of making a living from their blog, I was very interested in this interview in NY Mag with John and Sherry Petersik about their decision to stop blogging towards the end of 2014 after seven years because the popularity of their blog, Young House Love, had just got too much to cope with. They’re back now, but in a very low-key way and sound much happier. I do think that some bloggers share too much in an attempt to grow their audience and please their sponsors and I suspect some of them will regret it in time. Certainly, I think some of their children will.

And finally, the family of Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, the last of the Mitford sisters, are selling off the contents of her house. I’ve always been intrigued by the sisters and this sale is fascinating and also a little sad. Included in the sale are some botanical paintings by her daughter and signed books which feel so personal. On the other hand, such is the allure of the Mitford name that estimates on photoraphs of the family are very high while there are some posh log baskets estimated at less than their cost new. I was most intrigued by “her Grace’s collection of Elvis Presley ephemera” (who knew?) and there’s a Duncan Grant painting of Lismore Castle I would love to take home if I was feeling flush (Lot 27, Sotheby’s site won’t let me copy the images).

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