Tag Archives: Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson ‘Started Early, Took My Dog’

Kate Atkinson Started Early quotes

Photo credit: crimeandpublishing.com

I’ve been meaning to start writing about books that I’ve enjoyed – for a bit of a change and also to share my other big passion, though I suppose languages and reading often go hand in hand.

Usually when I’m reading a book I really like I have an overwhelming urge to quote a few bits to whoever is near, but seeing that there’s not always somebody around a blog seems to be a perfect place to do it.

I think this is a very ‘English’ book, in a sense that there are lots of details and descriptions that I probably couldn’t relate to or understand until I came to live here.

Here are the bits that I liked most:

‘His mother was defensive, worried that Leslie would carry her son off to a faraway continent and all her grandchildren would have accents and be vegetarians. Leslie wanted to reassure her, say, It’s only a holiday romance, but that probably wouldn’t go down well either’.

She thought she’d signed up for the duration… and then last week they told her that her contract wasn’t being renewed and she was going to die at the end of her run. She had only a few weeks to go. They hadn’t told her how. It was beginning to worry her in some curiously existential way as if Death was going to jump out of her from round the corner, swinging his sickle and shouting, ‘Boo!’ Well, perhaps not boo. She hoped that Death had a little more gravitas than that‘. [It’s about an actress who was about to be killed off in a series. It’s not new to me, but it’s interesting to note that Death is masculine in English, even there are no genders as such. In Russian death is a female, for instance].

‘He was a big guy, with a mean expression on his face, barrel-chested like a Rottweiler. Add to that the shaved head, the weight-lifting muscles and a St George’s flag tattooed on his left bicep, twinned with a half-naked woman inked into his right forearm, and, voil√°, the perfect English gentleman’.

Fiction had never been Jackson’s thing. Facts seemed challenging enough without making stuff up. What he discovered was that the great novels of the world were about three things – death, money and sex. Occasionally a whale‘.

‘They were celebrating the divorce of one of their pack. Jackson thought that divorce was possibly an occasion for a wake rather than a knees-up but what did he know, he had a particularly poor track record where marriage was concerned. It surprised him to discover that the women all seemed to be teachers or social workers. Nothing more frightening than a middle-class woman when she lets her hair down’.

– ‘Do you know what colour grey is?’

– ‘It’s the colour of the sky’, Courtney offered.¬†Tracy sighed. Therapist would have a field day with this kid.

‘Everywhere people were puffing and panting their way up the steps. He had never seen so many fat people in one place at the same time. He wondered what a visitor from the past would make of it. It used to be poor who were thin and the rich who were fat, now it seemed to be the other way round’.

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pet used to address somebody

Photo credit: telegraph.co.uk

While I was reading Kate Atkinson’s Started Early, Took my Dog I came across an interesting way of addressing somebody – the main character, a woman in her fifties, addressed a little girl as ‘pet‘. I’ve heard of ‘love’, of course, and have been called that on numerous occasions, but ‘pet‘ was new to me.

As it usually happens with my newly discovered words, the very next day I went to the Leicester Market to stock up on amazingly cheap fruit and one of the sellers said ‘That’s two pounds, pet’ to me.

I googled this to see if there was anything special about this word and it turned out that it’s mostly used in the north of England (the lady in the book was from Yorkshire). Here’s a very informative piece of friendly and informal terms of address from the BBC.

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