Friday, January 27, 2012

DSC_8339 [ps] - TickleFrom Facebook, which usually tells me to befriend people I've heard of (thanks to the gayfia):

Sheila Gynodottir likes this

Oh, not that Manhunt.

But then it was beneath the suggestion that I 'like' Nirvana because a Buddhist friend does.

Ooh, finally listening to CD (they still have those! Who knew?) a friend sent me (ok, so Amazon sent it, but it's the click that counts), and it's got strings in. #yay #fanofflorid #ohisthisnottwitter?

Except there's the slight glitch that one song gets my head singing along the words to a different song by a different band (and BTW what is that one radios keep playing at the moment that isn't Beyoncé, just sounds remarkably like one of hers?). There's also another glitch that the drive in this computer is clearly so whizzy that it only needs to scan the CD occasionally to get the data, instead of having it plod round continuously, so all songs have an underlying hint of microwave on defrost.

Actually, I'm faintly confused, because this music is the sort I like, and it's familiar, and yet I apparently don't already have a copy. Odd. That and the band name confuses me, although perhaps it's like the hiccups remedy in Sleepless in Seattle, and we're all meant to say "Wasn't it Jonah?"


PS. No, I do not use it—have just heard of it—only getting as far as lurking on Thingbox.

Monday, January 23, 2012

DSC_0288 [ps] - Camberbridge GreenI'm guessing the bridge over the river the town is named after is the cycle-path one I can see from the window.

So I'm in Pontycrisised, staying in halls (yay, no towels of any description anywhere shared, he said, shaking his hands), with an age-old friend (I can call her that; she's two days younger than I am, and I was just called 'old chap', so it needs passing on).

And there's nothing quite like arriving in an unfamiliar town, following the flows from the station to get to the town centre, then guesstimating my way to her half-remembered doorbell, to be presented with a butternut squash to peel and dismember and then being sent out with vague directions to buy bread from a petrol station that didn't stock it and so improvving my way back into town, then walking in the opposite direction to the Sainsbury's bags (my route, when mapped, does look a bit like a rodent exploring a maze).

So back to cooking in a massively under-equipped kitchen (GA's meagre kit seems to have become common as the other cupboards yielded three rice cookers. The sole capable of cutting knife is about half the width of the loaf. The recipe required every saucepan going, and then some, so was batch cooked and recombined later. Turns out it feeds 8 not 4).

Then unfortunately I thought going to a lecture the friend had mentioned before I arrived might be interesting (ok, I thought it polite with an outside chance of interesting). Not so much. Small room, a dozen or two round a table, and the eminence grise, who, being so fond of his own voice, as is his due [he said this, not about his voice, just his life. Charming man], failed to convey very much in quite a long time, even to those who understood the points he wasn't making. BTW, if quoting from your latest book to illustrate a point, limit extracts to just the one chapter. I ended up reading the titles on the bookshelves on the other side of the room (impenetrable on many subjects and Michael Crichton). And then people watching. Couple in the corner who started off subtle and then, well, I'm sure she was just cold. Next to them a beautiful man, from certain angles, in ironic Christmas jumper (I'm not sure which layers of irony were intentional). Beyond a couple of dull people a cute, touching, literally, probably Italian, nigh on undoubtedly gay, in the architect glasses, with the slightly too frequent eye contact. A bit further up mezzo-cute probably Italian (he was, I saw him at the museum) in the corner, reminding me a lot of one of GA's friends (if you're gay and have been to London he's probably in your Facebook friends, and not just for general trollopiness), so fairly good looking, but thinks he's better looking than he is. I noticed the fairly senior, somewhat arch couple, perhaps in multiple senses, at the end of the table late on, but they had cleared which to people watching too.

[Did I mention the drugs seem to be making me more dyslexic? If you don't understand the last phrase above try reading it aloud. Done that? Hello, welcome to a brain with coding difficulties]

It's not many academic discussions I've been to that have ended at half-eleven at night (I had to resort to subtly writing out "His email is on the paper (HINT)" and tilting it towards GA who was asking questions about as long as the answers to the visible exasperation of the host. Except it turns out she didn't notice either). And it wasn't all that good for her PhD proposal, which is why she went.

Best line: These are unmodellable systems [trans: I don't know]

Fortunately the barman in the college bar, where we adjourned recuperatively, is mighty cute (that no-staff rule doesn't count if they're doing a PhD, right?).

And so to tomorrow, which involved deciding on a list of places to go while GA writes, and thus spending all day in one of them, the WitzFilliam:
- A thousand and one uses for St Sebastian.
- When the end comes all that will be left are cockroaches. And stone torsos.
- Ancient Egyptian Cyberman.
- The perverse, persistent ingenuity of humans makes me cry (that or it's the pills).
- I need to go back, not least find the Hokusai irises they were selling in the shop, but also because, although it's like a small British Museum it's a lot less crowded than there, but does have some true grumps of staff, and I started to glaze over (celadon about right?).
- GA's right; the figurines whichever relative donated to the museum are bloody hideous (though I wonder how she came have the three best seasons).
- Only 20th century humans have body hair.
- Possibly related: one model did have polite genitals on the adult male. Except they were identical to those on an attached putto.
- Rape is so terribly beautiful, or so we are led to believe.
- The world will assume they're brothers.
- The expressions of Ganymede and Leda.

And so out into the fen replenishment, skipping the mooted genomics lecture because GA was caught academicking, and cold and dark and stormy nights are not the best time to explore, especially with a blood sugar level below the water table.

So instead emergency shortbread, hanging round till GA returned, and then watching Aladdin because I needed an antidote to yesterday but thought I might fall asleep in anything too worthy. Except we're both too old not to understand the double-entendres, thus sniggering into giggles at A Hole; New World.

Childishness never fades.

And then GA decided we had to head out for pudding, because, er, that's a normal thing. Turns out calories don't count if there's someone else at the table, and that diets can be ignored if the other person can remember the slimmer version. And so to the student pub on the millpond a few doors down, with a small glass of wine becoming a bottle because the rest of the bottle was free, and a pudding that had a Twix sticking out of it, which is just obscene (and I don't just mean the position of the round chocolates at the base of it).

And so, buzzing, to bed.

The next day we went back to WitzFilliam to discuss things and seek out the missed (guess which of us had discovered more). And so found:
- Turns out the three seasons are because distant-relative-of-friend was having an affair with the man who donated most of the collection, so she got first dibs, and presumably didn't like winter (or couldn't find it).
- Totes a "comradely gesture" (the Assyrians left of the main entrance); they're just very good comrades. Cue discussion about how the modern interpretations written in museums and galleries invariably seem to forget that the objects to their left were made by humans, so beings with both a sense of humour and sexual mores (and a variety of those). Occam is rarely applied, instead what is not sought is not seen.
- The Hokusai irises might be in the shop, on WitzFilliam branded merchandise, but they're buried in the archives, and that's appointment only (they actually seemed willing to help arrange one).
- GA's taste is, despite my best endeavours, not identical to mine. She liked, to the extent of describing it as her favourite, the sub-Richard Scarry thing that's on the right on the right-most room up the right stairs. I'm trying not to think about what it means that her favourite painting in the whole place is the first one most people get to (incidentally, when you go into shops, most people look, and then drift, to the right).

Out to explore and find the signature cake shop has sold out of its huge mound of signature cakes by still-sometime-in-the-morning.

Then a wander up the backs (faintly remembered from the last time I was here, when my brother was deciding he wasn't all that keen on the place. Unfortunately my other navigation point, where I got a tin I still have [some of you will be able to work this out], seems to be long gone, despite being pretty damn touristy [a corner in CoGa for example]. Trying to find it led to the curious Google result of "X, Midsonginterludevidivici" bringing up "X, Cowinriver") and some more wandering.

I liked the parish boundary markers on the hollow lower ground (spot the building on the flood plain) of Threesome College, complete with the lingering 1904 charcoal graffiti. And the stories in the less-public masonry. And not being the cause of the bicycle crash. And being able to read architecture and urban form well enough to thoroughly best GA's idea on which was the eponymous bridge.

And then we got to Potcalling's Callitametre, which brought in a whole new level of like. We went from the temporary exhibition, which turned out to be a room (looking remarkably like a small part of the Vorticists exhibition that was on a while ago somewhere arty; they even had the exhibition catalogue), failed to borrow the key to the sweet little church on the hillock because they're working on it, and then waited to be let into an idiosyncratic house, and that's just the entrance policy.

But, wow, and woah, and I like, and thoroughly approve, and want, and golly, and yes, and can I, please?

Basically a house, or four, of an ex-curator of somewhere else I like the collection, who clearly got access to all the stuff his employers didn't buy. And there's slightly, um, distinctive guardians wandering round drinking tea by it all and quibbling with each other on whether the houseplants need watering.

Then more wandering, discovering places on GA's list of galleries tend to be shops (but it's still art) and so eventually to WeThree's for evensong, because that way you get to see inside the chapel without having to pay, oh, and hear the Christmas Eve lot.

More golly goes here. The building is awesome, original sense, even when lit only by candles (or possibly when), and the choir are... human—stubbly, lingering Movember efforts, ironic glasses, upset and chewing the hem, making eye contact or sitting mute through the prayers—which makes what comes out of them ever more fantastic.

Admittedly the service was a bit, er, old testament, so God from the petulant, vengeful and misogynistic strand (though "whoredom" and "harlotry" are good words), and hearing pure innocence of a young boy's singing commanding His enemies to "lick the dust" did jar slightly (but perhaps this just means I don't go to church much. Lord's prayer: yes, creed: huh?). And the token female reading one of the lessons did keep stressing "ye" because it was an unfamiliar word, which didn't quite help.

And then, because we are two young adults and it was a Saturday night, we stayed in and watched The Third Man, sitting on a bed, pillows insulating backs, on a laptop, because neither of us had seen it. So now I know where that music comes from (and what Ferris wheel references refer to). Odd that those great holes and mounds of rubble aren't sets, but just what the world looked like then (it's almost like Manchester. I would duck, but I don't think he's reading ATM).

And so vegetable stew for brunch for the third day running (did I mention the unintentional feeds-eight thing?) and helping GA with World Bank data, so filling in the blanks in her economic zone categorisation, with occasional corrections (of course Bolivia is in Former Soviet and Eastern European states, and yes, I'm sure Pakistan would love to be classed as Arab World, just as Iran would be thrilled by that description too, and naturally Guyana and Papua New Guinea and Guinea-Bissau are all in the Caribbean, oh and Lesotho is in Latin America, just as Luxembourg and Liechtenstein are in Africa. To be fair though, San Marino does sound like it could be in the Pacific. But she is the same person who in English years ago used yellow taxis to set a scene in London).

Then I get sent off for an hour while GA struggles to adapt her findings to this new geographic knowledge. Except I wandered out of the Korean sector because I wanted to see what the rest of the town was like, found the Waitrose, then the river, thick with Sunday morning training (how exactly does one get distracted by a good mix of muscular and gangly young men flushed in cool, bright air and very-little-imagination Xchanging togs, while not getting run down by their coaches?), and then as swung round, back through town, the sun came out, so it turned into an hour and a half.

Suddenly in, to meet the beau, of whom I've vaguely heard, or studiously not been told much, and to discover the complicated route to their meeting (well, it'll make Christmasses easier). I'd say he's perhaps a bit old, but more importantly, not necessarily bright enough, and seemingly a bit patronising. But it's probably for the best that I didn't tell her that she ought to be able to do better (although understand her self-confidence is probably at the level where any is better than none; her social life seemingly solely ordered in from the outside).

Into town for lunch, in a randomly chosen pub, that turns out to have the same menus as the one next to the house (just checked, yep, that brewery have most of the pubs in town), then off for a walk to the end of the world (except we were just going for lunch so I didn't have my camera), which ended at the first village downstream, and the first pub there, and being almost the only people in the place, but that's because it didn't really imply it was open. The local newsletter on the bar looking forward to the royal wedding didn't really help the atmosphere (though it also advertised something happening in May 2010, so who knows).

Eventually back, chasing the dusk across fields, and then grabbing my things and fleeing for the train of one stop, which handily seems to have replaced the luggage racks with light fittings, which made for an uncomfortable start (through embarrassment over seat hogging). And so to dawdling my way home.


Monday, January 16, 2012

A weekend in the country

"Oh fuck off, nanny."

As spoken by a child scarcely taller than his scooter.

Anyway, moving deftly on, look what I found:

The arrows! The arrows! The arrows! The arrows! Still the same arrows!

Sunday mornings invading my parents' bed. I don't remember the titles taking three minutes—maybe they did—but I do remember the curious amount of twins and triplets about who die in suspiciously similar circumstances. I don't quite remember what actually happened, but that's not important, right? I mean, it's only the birth of a nation and religion.

Bloody hell, there are 94 episodes. No wonder it was always on (and I never worked out what was on).

Anyway, is that suitably different from the competitive misery of the last post (it wasn't intentionally)? I just saw a comment while rummaging in Alec's archive (mostly because it was there) that was something along the lines of "Such problems I wish I had". Except clearly not; the lives are others are always greater, more important, more significant.

And I need to work on that. Rather than diminishing my preferences and desires lest they disrupt anyone, finding it far too easy to acquiesce to the ambivalence of others (I used that phrase the other day and was promptly accused of being fastidiously wordy. Clearly they didn't actually use "fastidiously", but brevity, and elegance, demands the misquote. That and I can't find a better way of saying it; 'yield' perhaps, but what is equivalent to 'ambivalent'?)

As for wordiness (and why is it that I can do wordiness better than worldliness?) I now really want to post the lyrics to something we're supposed to do in choir (now that I'm an old hand there I can happen to drop it in, in much the manner of civil partnerships *waves*. I must be an old hand as there's someone there newer than me, and who makes the debate as to whether the giant or I am the youngest suddenly irrelevant with his three-years post... what? Uni? College? School? In fact, actual or otherwise, I've been going twice as long as him, so, er, I'm not sure I have a point (so let's stick some more brackets in (because that's how I normally get out of things like this (just as long as you're not keeping count))).

Anyway, choir, in amongst the unpronounceable (seriously, 'pelotsethatha'? Hint: two of the letters are silent. Or even 'tu t'en vas' if fast enough), is this li'l beaut (trying to avoid quoting lyrics because I'm being paranoid, but we do seem to do a different version to most of the others, and the more obscure the more Google hits. See: Northumbrian dish of bacon, onion and potato).

And I really need to work on my French (ignoring the whole reading it unintentionally thing the other day). Turns out "ma tant" is not my aunt.

Et avec ça je vais bid yieu adieu.


PS. )

Friday, January 13, 2012

DSC_4112 [psp] - Black DogA bit of a no can do. Yesterday was the first counselling session. It didn't happen; counsellor needs healing. London didn't happen. Food didn't happen. Sleep didn't happen. But weird dreams came over open eyes, altitude sickness symptoms well below the tree line. Listless yet lethargic, angry yet anxious, so, so scared.

The grating of Brandenburg at four, the comical vox pop pig farmer on the half-hours, the disquieting liveliness of others listening, the moon battling the dawn.

The farthest hill beyond the church is black ink running, blue mist over darkening shade and ivy, golden tan twigs flourishing.

Not now. Now the bald man's office matches the sky above, cold fluorescence through nineties' tint and white gold, also cold.

One apology sent. The not-fussed remain so. The oddly-cares need doing, but not quite yet. Instead hunched, Sigur Ros peripheral.

Need to buy a lottery ticket. As much chance that as anything else.

The future-planned suddenly daunts. If limbs too heavy to lift, what chance eyes, smile, brain? Once more unto the breach, tears from the crush of joy. Brine, my long streak of piss, sliding through the claimed salving, solving, balm of slick oily confident company's comfort. The blithe, bonny, and gay, taunt. Schadenfreunde.

I must not take pain in the pleasure of others. And yet my perpetual inability to notice potential, to peruse, pursue, possibilities pricks, pillages, plunders, prevents the popular pretence.

Style as ever over substance, and poor, puerile, style at that. Message mired in the medium. Should have stuck at Schadefreunde. Blackjack doesn't have five-card tricks.

Hollowness wears thin.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Of course what I really should have covered in the last post is my tendency to seek out the best looking man of an appropriate age in any repeating situation and assign significance to him which is invariably misplaced and often damaging. Or in other words my gaydar runs on hope.

Yes, I've already done this with the choir, but he does have good eyes.

Anyway, as someone's just tweeted it, record in the comments the time at which the first smile erupted onto your face. It's like eating a doughnut without licking (ok, so I have done this, but it's not pleasant).

And now for something completely different (I'm not quite sure I've understood the plot).

And where were your eyes?


DSC_5394 [psp] - Glittering OrbitsSunday was a doing day. A day of planning, putting things into the future. Nothing too big, or far off, just enough to create some semblance of intention, implied possible happiness. Of course the next day a text arrived buggering half of it, but such is life. Anyway, so soon I'll be going to visit the Tabs for the first time since biscuit tin and my brother decided he didn't want to go there (and clearly I need to try and remember if I've given that town a Google-stumping blog name, although I imagine the inevitable Flickring will sort of give it away) and then a little later the home of the Venerable Beet.

And unlike the last time I lived here I'm unabashedly listening to the Chicago soundtrack. Not sure it's the best for typing though; too many words jamming in head, too much finger clicking and jazz hands. Also I'm not sure where the shame came from; given I don't remember my parents objecting to me wearing out their copy of the West Side Story soundtrack. Still skipping anything with memorable 'fucks' in though (much like life).

Anyway, speaking of singing along I got dragged to a community choir the other night. Bear in mind I last sang in public in Year 10 (I got a cold; my voice was never quite the same; the bass parts were 64 identical bars of tedium) and I've never quite figured out where my adult voice ought to be.

Ooh, back to Chicago, it's this song. I know the person who plays her. Ok, so I think I know their faintly insane dog more than the owners (the market was like that. I also eventually worked out that the one who did the urban caricatures was in Hot Fuzz. But then I used to sign-on on the same day as someone from Eastenders and Doctor Who. Such thrills).

Anyway, singing. Turns out I'm quite good at repeating back the last thing sung to me, regardless of whether that's the part I'm meant to be doing; there was a slight domino effect as the altos leached into the basses, as the neighbours drift the next line glissends too. Also turns out that aping sounds isn't the best way know what the words are actually meant to be. The words are on a website and feature no French foxes (ok, it was unlikely what with the whole uncertain South African language thing. Googling suggests it's one of three options), which makes me suspect my pronunciation is about as accurate as French teenagers singing The Beatles (if you haven't encountered this you really should), which given I can get through this with only having to infer 'feoffer' from context displeases me (but had seen another version about a decade ago).

Incidentally is it a good sign if you read something in French before you notice it's in French? I thought I couldn't do that any more.

And remind me never to drive while under the influence of Chicago. Given the general jigging I'd probably finally manage to turn cruise control on.


Saturday, January 07, 2012

DSC_8492 - Points of IngressGrr. One thing about this whole making up for lost time malarkey, except really it's about trying to compensate for that I can never recover, being with the one who no longer is, is that the remaining one is sodding annoying. Childish, petulant, unwilling, contemptuous, pessimistic, aggrieved.

She responds not with delight to invitations, but with internal fury for the slights she finds in the manner of asking. She just doesn't seem to get that people doing things they do not have to do not have to do those things, so being thankful and pleased is really the deserved response.

She prefers to let life be bad, so it matches what she expects of it, than to put herself in a position, to do anything, that means it might not be. The woman who rails against the arrogance of others, who manages to be as stubborn and bloody-minded as they come, responds to any attempt to be prompt her into being proactive, or even just sensible, with sudden concern for the much lambasted others. Instantly she doesn't want to tread on the toes of others, yet would happily cut out their hearts with a soup spoon.

Life is the poison that swirls about her, trapping her twisting helplessly in its eddies, or so she suggests.

She is become Cassandra, and quite frankly life's more fun if you are one of those doomed fools who do not heed the predictions of the nay-saying soothsayer (regardless for their potential to be true).

And I am become the teenager, wanting to scream for the folly, the parental incompetence, the still grating awareness that parents are not the all-knowing and all-wise beings of childhood, instead languishing as the inept lesser mortals all humans are. Except screaming is tedious and the shrunken house no longer affords the run-up needed for a good slammed door (that and I sort of grew out of it when the bathroom window fell out).

I just have to remember baby steps, despite the absurdity of having an adult do them.


Friday, January 06, 2012

Does it count as a meme if the only mention of it you've seen is someone complaining about it on Facebook?

My answer:

Now what was the question?


Thursday, January 05, 2012

DSC_2369 - Ready to RutWhen did it become the norm to core tomatoes?

He asked, in January.

But still, I don't like finding antlers in vegefruit.

I am going to endeavour to pretend that this was not the most thrilling part of my day.


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