Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Lolly Vote

This week has been a funny one. It's a modified Hell Week. Lady Elks. Book Group. Dream Group. Pinochet... However as things are ramping down at work, it's not been too bad at all.

Elks was really lovely. There were more members there than normal. It was lovely to see one of my favourite members. Veronica is in her ninetieth year. She's a cracker - lovely, lovely lady who's just returned after having her hip replaced. She's a joy to have around.

Book Group entailed having our annual book choosing session at an Italian Restaurant in on the river in the CBD. This is always a fun event.

I've talked about our book group before - a melee of women with reasonably strong personalities and opinions. To select the eleven books we will be reading for the the year everybody brings in two books which they consider fit for purpose. These books should be:

1) Of literature or very good popular fiction quality
2) No more than 500 pages long
3) Definitely not memoir, autobiography, biography or non-fiction
4) Readily available in bookshops, online or for kindle

There are a few other niggly rules that get the conversation going. Russian Literature gets my nose crinkling. The mention of Ian McEwan gets Alice ranting. Salman Rushdie makes some groan (though I LOVE Salman Rushdie). Merijn doesn't like Booker Winners, but doesn't mind the runners up. Then we get things like the mention of That Cat Book, which still fires me up under the right circumstances.

The book choices are handed over to me in the days before the meeting for a final vetting - more to make sure that the memoir and autobiography requirements are met.

My primary choices this year were Jennifer Egan's "A Visit From the Goon Squad" and Ernest Hemingway's "A Movable Feast", until another member pipped me to the post with the former and Alice pointed out to me that the Hemingway was a memoir. (Bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger - at 128 pages it was sure to get in!)

I settled on Jeffrey Eugenides, "The Marriage Plot" and Craig Silvey's "Jasper Jones". The former was penned by one of my favourite authors and the latter has been sitting on my book shelf for a while. I thought I had no chance getting these books selected. I'm normally dissed for being too high brow for the group.

At the meeting everybody will champion their books, telling why they think the books will be a good choice. I'm still wondering how the hell that cat book got in that year. Then again, we're often surprised when a book doesn't get in for the year. Last year I selected Ian McEwan's "Atonement". Missed by that much though everybody said that they voted for it.

My other role in this meeting is providing the lollies for the voting. Everybody is required to vote using the lollies supplied. Everybody is provided with 25 lollies (Sweeties if you are English, candies if you are American) with which to select your books which ever way you wish (Except you can't vote for your own books). You can vote over a selection, or stack the votes for a book.

Somebody needs to bag up these sweets.

This is my job.

Four years ago I used Skittles (Chewy, fruity drops). These were good, but they got sticky as the vessels in which they are placed were damp. The second year I used Jaffas (chocolate orange balls) but they left orange marks on our hands. Last year I found some sweets at the local Asian grocery store. They were wrapped, so the lollies remained unspoiled as did our hands, but I was told under no circumstances should I use these again - EVER. They weren't the best - bitter and sour for the most part. Ended up taking the bulk of them into work where there were hoovered up by the masses at the Bastard Bank Data Centre.

I put up something on my Facebook page asking for suggestions. Other than a resounding "No Asian Sweets", I suggested to get Clinkers, Lemon Sherberts, Skittles and fake teeth. Hmm. A friend in Adelaide suggested FruChocs.

FrucChocs! Oh how I miss FruChocs. I left Adelaide 22 years ago, only returning for a few days at a time once or twice a year.

FruChocs are an iconic South Australian chocolate. You can't get them out of Adelaide. Every time I go back I make sure a couple of packets make it into my luggage.

The rest of the world don't know what they're missing out on.

The other things I miss about Adelaide are all food related. Other than FruChocs, a decent Vili's pasty (pronounced P-ahhh-sty, not pasty - just as it's Pahsta, not pasta - Long 'a' not short) Woodroofe's Lemonade (Fixes stomach aches in a jiffy - a dry lemonade not too sweet at all), Farmers Union Iced Coffee (which you can get Nationwide now - Australia has seen the light) and candied spuds, which I haven't seen over here either. I'm from a funny little place with wonderfully parochial foodstuffs.

But I digress.

Jonella made mention that the lollies had to be wrapped so that they could be eaten later. But really, did they?

In the end, after a visit to the supermarket, I left with a packet each of Sour Skittles, Jelly Beans, Fruit Drops, chocolate covered Turkish Delight and Lemon Sherberts. I also went to the cleaning aisle and bought some food preparation gloves. When I bagged up the lollies I placed a rubber glove in the bag too. This way the unwrapped lollies would not be tainted. Well it made sense to me.

If you want to get the attention in a fairly full restaurant, announce "Ladies, don your rubber gloves!" in a loud voice. The looks we received as we snapped on our gloves was priceless!

The votes were taken and tallied - by some miracle, both of my books passed muster. So did a Salman Rushdie (albeit one of his kid's books)

A little bit of jostling in which months to read each book was had. Georgie is pregnant so we were to do hers first before bubs arrives. I'm looking to be away most of April so that was a no go for me. Somebody else had plans for September. All sorted in five minutes. Our year of reading looks like this:

January:       The Dinner by  Herman Koch
February:    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
March:        Tigers in Red Weather Liza Klaussmann
April:           The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
May:            Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville
June:            Dead Europe by Christos Tsiolkas
July:             The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
August:        What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
September:  A Visit From the Goon Squad by  Jennifer Egan
October:      Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
November:  Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie

The best thing about this year's books is that the Rushdie got press ganged through by the lit heads. It's a great reading list and I'm looking forward to some great discussions over the year.

Last night was our last functioning dream group for the year. A breath of relief can be sighed. As much as I get out of dream group, it's nice to have a break for a few weeks.

Tonight it's off to see Pinochet. Now that the temperature has dropped fifteen degrees in the last hour (it was 35 before lunch, it's now down to a pleasant 21 it might be alright, though it's bound to be really muggy at the gym.

Get the Christmas presents wrapped tonight to send off to Adelaide tomorrow and I can have a lovely, quiet weekend.

Well, that's the plan.


Kath Lockett said...

Ooooh, a good list. I did read Jennifer Egan's "A Visit From the Goon Squad" a few months ago. It was, okay, but left me slightly puzzled as to why that got raves when so many other relationships over the years books disappear without a trace.

Have ordered 'The perks of being a wallflower' for Sapph via The Book Depository, which should be delivered to my folks' place in time for Christmas.

Laughed out loud at the 'Ladies, put on your rubber gloves!' announcement.

The Elephant's Child said...

Ladies don your gloves was brilliant. An exciting year of reading ahead - which is always a treat.
Question though - why the ban on biographies/memoirs/autobiographies? Which I assume would also extend to two of my favourite reads - diaries and letters.

Pandora Behr said...

For book group, in the past, we've found them exceptionally hard to maintain a conversation over. Tried many - Mao's Last Dancer, Romulus My Father , that fricking cat book, ... All really hard to make comment on ad you actively feel like you're judging people. It's what we've found. I don't mind a good memoir. Reading Lolita in Tehran was excellent.