My mother-in-law has been in England, at our mercy for ten days. So, of course, we imposed some of our favourite Northern places on her: Chatsworth House and the Peak District; York and Whitby; and the Lake District - Windermere and Coniston. We also persuaded her to eat half a Cornish Pasty. (Half is enough.)
It was so sunny in the Lakes we got something approaching a tan. Very unusual. The picture above was taken after nine at night from Orrest Head, where TM and I clambered after dinner.
Tom's mother flew back to St Louis today, and on Sunday we're off to Rome to stay with NZ friends for a few days. I really want to finish the Rome book within the next month or so, and need a (hot) blast of the real thing. At least this time I won't have awful, petty people scouring the Internet for incriminating evidence ...
Story update: it's day 172 of my short-story-a-day challenge. I'm still reading, and still trying to range in time and place. Here's the list up to 140.
101: ‘The DeWets Come to Kloof
Grange’ by Doris Lessing (1951)
102: ‘The Genial Host’ by Mary McCarthy (1942)
103: ‘The Schartz-Metterklume Method’ by Saki (1904)
104: ‘Another Life’ by Paul LaFarge (2012)
105: ‘A Replacement’ by Peter Mathiessen (1953)
106: ‘The Joycelin Shrager Story’ by Tom Disch (1975)
107: ‘Ideas’ by Patricio Pron (2009)
108: ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson (1948)
109: ‘The Music Shop’ by Gyrdir Eliasson (2009)
110: ‘The Test’ by Angelica Gibbs (1940)
111: ‘The Perfectionist’ by Patricia Highsmith (1974)
112: ‘Scale’ by Will Self (1994)
113: ‘How Old, How Young’ by John O’Hara (1967)
114: ‘The English Lesson’ by Margaret Bonham (1947)
115: ‘Lappin and Lapinova’ by Virginia Woolf (1939)
116: ‘Pirpo and Chanberlan, Murderers’ by Bernardo Atxaga (2006)
117: ‘Minnie’s Room’ by Mollie Panter-Downes (1947)
118: ‘Natives Don’t Cry’ by Kay Boyle (1935)
119: ‘The Convolvulus Clock’ by Ruth Rendell (1985)
120: ‘Two Hanged Women’ by Henry Handel Richardson (1934)
121: ‘The Adult Holiday’ by Elizabeth Spencer (1983)
122: ‘The House of Clouds’ by Antonia White (1928)
123: ‘The Lesson’ by Toni Cade Bambara (1972)
124: ‘Looking for a Rain God’ by Bessie Head (1977)
125: ‘The Giantess’ by Suniti Namjoshi (1984)
126: ‘The Lottery’ by Marjorie Barnard (1943)
127: ‘The Passion of Marco Z’ by Anne Leaton (1976)
128: ‘The Petrified Woman’ by Caroline Gordon 1963
129: ‘Every Move You Make’ by David Malouf (2006)
130: ‘Paper Children’ by Elizabeth Jolley (1983)
131: ‘For a Foreign Master’ by Borivoje Adasevic (2000)
132: ‘Levitation’ by Cynthia Ozick (1982)
133: ‘An Unpleasant Reminder’ by Anna Kavan (1940)
134: ‘The Weeping Child’ by Jane Gardam (1975)
135: ‘Diego’ by Julia O’Faolain (1982)
136: ‘The Sisters’ by Pauline Smith (1925)
137: ‘Weekend’ by Fay Weldon (1978)
138: ‘Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker (1973)
139: ‘Death of a Son’ by Njabulo S. Ndebele (1987)
140: ‘Down the Quiet Street’ by Es’kia Mphahlele (1954)
But now for the real point of this post: the bridal shower my sister, niece and I threw for my nephew's lovely fiancee, Martha, when I was back in Auckland. For those of you planning a bridal shower any time soon - much nicer than hen nights, because they involve biscuits, scones, ginger gems, etc - here are some game ideas. The first is a quiz we devised called FAMOUS BRIDES IN HISTORY. The guests were put into teams of four or five; we mixed up ages and nationalities of team members, to make it more fair/fun. I would have made the questions even longer, and all about the Tudors, but I was overruled. Also, Martha is Mexican, hence the Mexican questions.
Here's the quiz, with answers below.
1. Cleopatra considered herself to be married four times. Her first two husbands were her younger half-brothers: Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. She had a child with her third husband, Julius Caesar. What was the name of the Roman who became her fourth husband?
2. How many times was Elizabeth Taylor married?
3. Who was the second bride of Henry VIII?
4. In 1745, the sixteen-year-old Sophie von Anhalt-Zerbst, the eldest daughter of an obscure Prussian prince, was married in Moscow to the heir to the imperial Russian throne. Under what name did she become best known?
5. Who, in 1985, became actor Sean Penn's first wife?
6. Which Mexican artist had a turbulent marriage to fellow painter Diego Rivera?
7. In 1880 an English writer born Mary Anne Evans married a man twenty years her junior. During their honeymoon in Venice, he tried to kill himself by jumping out the window and into a canal. What was the pen name of this writer?
8. How old was Marie Antoinette when she married Louis XVI in May 1770?
9. Pippa Middleton was Kate Middleton's maid of honour. How many bridesmaids did Kate have?
10. How many times has “singer” Jennifer Lopez been married?
11. Who was Helen of Troy's husband when she ran off with Paris and started the Trojan war?
12. Which of Rod Stewart's wives was born in Auckland?
13. Nicole Kidman is married to country singer Keith Urban. Who was her first husband?
14. Which Mexican-born actress married French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault – first in Paris, and then in Venice?
15. Who was married three times in this times, in this order: the King of France, a Scottish Lord, and an Earl who probably murdered her second husband?
16. When did a thirty-three-year-old Eva Braun marry fifty-six-year-old Hitler?
17. Which actress married the future president of Argentina in 1945?
18. Which Hungarian-born actress said: “A man in love is incomplete until he is married. Then he is finished!”
1. Marc Antony
2. Eight: Conrad “Nicky” Hilton; Michael Wilding; Mike Todd; Eddie Fisher; Richard Burton: Richard Burton; John Warner; and Larry Fortensky.
3. Anne Boleyn
4. Catherine the Great
6. Frida Kahlo
7. George Eliot
9. Four: Lady Louise Windsor; Grace Van Cutsems; Eliza Lopes; and Margarita Armstrong-Jones
10. Three times: Ojani Noa; Chris Judd; and Marc Anthony
11. Menelaus of Sparta
12. Rachel Hunter
13. Tom Cruise
14. Salma Hayek
15. Mary Queen of Scots: King Francois II; Lord Darnley; the Earl of Bothwell
16. 1945: April 29. They committed suicide the next day.
17. Eva Peron
18. Zsa Zsa Gabor
Here are some extra-credit questions you could add:
19. At the end of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, how many Bennet daughters are married?
20. Which Persian bride told stories to her husband to save herself from execution?
21. The Chinese actress Jiang Qing was better known by what name after her 1938 marriage to a major political figure?
22. HIGH SOCIETY was the last film of which American actress before her marriage (to a European prince)?
23. Which young Italian bride moved into Indira Gandhi's house in 1968?
24. In THE SOUND OF MUSIC, who tries - and fails - to become the bride of Captain Von Trapp?
25. There were three Bronte sisters but only one got married: which one?
Extra -credit answers:
19. Three: Lydia, Jane, Elizabeth.
21. Madame Mao.
22. Grace Kelly.
23. Sonia Gandhi, wife of Indira Gandhi's son Rajiv.
24. The Baroness, Elsa Schroeder. (FYI: the best character in the film)
25. Charlotte Bronte.
Another game we played was to design Martha a going-away outfit. Each team - Green, Blue, Yellow, Purple, Red - was given a bizarre drawing of Martha (drawn by me, with photo-head attached, hence bizarreness), plus a bag of paper and fabric scraps, glue, bows, tape, stickers, etc. I tried to buy glitter as well, but my sister had enough of that all over the floor when her children were small.
The teams had about 20 minutes to come up with something. The results were fantastic.
Do try this at home.
Also, make Afghan biscuits.
Just a suggestion ...