12 Years a Slave, The Last Good Kiss and January flowers

We went to see the highly praised film 12 Years a Slave and we were certainly not disappointed. This is an excellent film in so many respects. The basic story is probably known to most people who go to see the film, as it’s been extensively reviewed and compared with other films about slavery in the USA. It is an unsentimental retelling of the experiences of Solomon Northrup, a free back man, who was hijacked into slavery and suffered a variety of indignities – as well as severe pain and near death – under a range of masters. The acting is superb and there is an absence of sentimentality and indeed, moralising in the film. The standout word in the film is property. The slaves are dehumanised in the eyes of their owners and overseers, and are used for labour in the fields. Women were often used as sex tools by white owners. It is hard to comprehend what it must have been like to experience this form of degradation, but this film gives us a graphic demonstration of how fear  dominated  the slaves’ lives. There is also some beautiful photography in the film. There are some savage moments in the film but this should not put you off going to see it if you can.

I’ve just finished James Crumley’s highly lauded The Last Good Kiss (Photo 1) – a rip roaring crime novel in which CW Sughrue is a private detective with a penchant for hard drinking, adventure and attractive women – sometimes simultaneously. Crumley has some Chandleresque phrases e.g. He had a haircut that belonged on someone else’s head and Sughrue’s character is well developed, as is that of the often hapless writer Trehearne. The women’s characters are somewhat developed but this is not a strong point of Crumley’s writing. The plot moves fast – sometimes a little farcically for my taste – and this is a novel which is at least one standard above most crime fiction you will read. Certainly worth a try.

The Last Good Kiss

The Last Good Kiss

It’s been fairly mild this winter in Dunbar and this has meant that some of the flowers have made an early show of colour. The wallflower, for example, are usually mid to late Spring entrants into the floral beauty contest, but this year, they are on display already. Wallflower are perennials and mine are now getting to the over bushy stage and I’ll take most of them out after the spring. I took Photo 2 when the heavy rain (in which my cycling mate John and I were caught for 30 mins this morning) stopped.

Wallflower

Wallflower

While in the garden, I also took 2 photos of cyclamen  which have been producing delicate, understated  flowers all winter. When it gets frosty, the cyclamen appear to shrug their shoulders and close up their leaves and flowers until some heat returns. I like trying to capture the colours of the flowers but also the raindrops which enhance the shapes and hues of the plants.

Cyclamen after the rain

Cyclamen after the rain

Cyclamen after the rain

Cyclamen after the rain

 

 

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