Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spread thin

“One stomach flu away from my golden weight”

In the words of The Devil Wears Prada. It’s what I keep thinking, because people keep telling me that I’ve lost weight. They mean it as a compliment, so I try to be gracious, not one of my skills at the best of times. My feeble efforts are considerably preferable to saying what is in my head, which is approximately the following: yes, it’s my steady diet of misery, caffeine, stress and chocolate. Right now I’m nauseous and I’ve slept about four hours, and today is a pretty good day, because at least I didn’t lie awake because of anxiety.

It’s all both true and not true. On Friday I saw a debate on zombies versus unicorns, Saturday I bought books and barley tea with a friend, and Sunday was all about crepes and more books. How bad can things really be?

I’m listening to Beirut, and this music really does sound like Beirut Unvisited, like eastern Europe in the sixties, like memories of French beaches.

So much to be grateful for. So much to be haunted by. So perhaps this is the perfect song.

Monday, September 27, 2010


It is as good a way as any, I suppose, to end the weekend: with Daleks. Or Darleks, if you like.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Next week is Banned Books Week. Time to whip out Lady Chatterly at Tom Lehrer's advice:

But seriously, time to sit in the park, reading And Tango Makes Three. The world needs more penguins.

However you do it, celebrate your right to read whatever you bloody well like.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Literarary pondings

A definition:

“It is the moment when our resolution seems about to become irrevocable—when the fatal iron gates are about to close upon us—that tests our strength. Then, after hours of clear reasoning and firm conviction, we snatch at any sophistry that will nullify our long struggles, and bring us the defeat that we love better than victory.”

Oh George Eliot and her infallible understanding of human frailty. Apt, too, the speaker: I first heard the quote from a hamster of a man, my first English professor, a truly engaging teacher who was later quietly removed for indiscretions with a student.

Anyway, that is The Mill on the Floss.

Perhaps more cheerily, this gloomy day (in my head - it was a glorious autumn day in the outside world) reminded me of Shelley -

"If winter comes, can spring be far behind?"

It seems especially pertinent today. Potent? Pungent? Portentous perhaps...

Friday, September 17, 2010


Which it isn't yet officially, but you can smell it in the air, crisp in the mornings...
I may need to buy some cider this weekend, and plan a camping trip (not actually take one - I'm working tomorrow afternoon. Bleh.)
But first Friday, and the annual budget. The crazy thing? I actually kind of like doing the budget.

Have a good Friday!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I used to live in Portsmouth, where Dickens was born. The house still stands, in the little bit that remains of the old city - the rest of it is pretty ugly these days, not much helped by contemporary efforts. In the year I lived in Portsmouth, I visited the good ship Victory several times. I went to London and Brighton and Bristol and Cardiff, and loved it. Southampton even, though mostly for the shopping, and lovely Chicester and Winchester where Jane Austen is buried.

But Dickens now; I made a point of not visiting his birth house. I don't believe much in birthplaces, which are usually the crummy towns that motivate people to get the hell out. One could easily see Portsmouth that way, though I am very fond of it. It is not a highbrow place, and wouldn't have been in Dickens' time. Mostly, however, I just didn't care much for Dickens, the most commonplace of Victorian writers when I always loved obscurity & decadence. Oddly enough, that never stopped me from reading his books - I read The Pickwick Papers and Great Expectations, enjoyed the latter quite a bit, but stopped there. A few weeks ago, a colleague of good judgment and taste recommended the most recent production of Bleak House, the 2005 mini-series. I watched it all in one go before leaving for the heimat two week ago. It is quite spectacular, and I am wondering if I need to revisit Dickens. Wondering whether, after all the Nice Soothing books I've been reading, I should revisit Dickens' murky world. He has such great characters, and a sort of gentleness in subjecting them to misfortunes that almost reminds me of early Tennessee Williams. Peculiar. Perhaps adulthood is making me unafraid of conventional, and almost unfashionable, reading...