iv: Rewire a dodgy plug
Collect the tools, then open the plug and tut over the fraying and blackened live wire. Check the wire colours to be sure. Next fit a new fuse, trim and strip the wires, clean out the connectors on the pins, connect it all neatly, and screw the back plate down without pinching the wires. I had forgotten the pleasure of this small ritual.
I like to imagine Darwin’s face if he could see me reading The Formation of Vegetable Mould in the 1883 edition, slightly mangled by former owners but with the text block cohering faithfully to its spine. For sure he would be flattered.
I also like to imagine his face if he saw me reading Voyage of the Beagle on an e-book reader. Whether envious of the technology or appalled by it, the flattery might be even greater.
For the record, Voyage of the Beagle is fascinating, but it is The Formation of Vegetable Mould which I will be reading again. And probably again after that.
has left a lot of his progeny in my garden.
They are pretending to be over-wintering bindweed roots, but their habits and their resemblance to a nest of vipers betray their progenitor.
First Venus with the Moon, and Jupiter coming along behind.
Then a long time watching Mars revolve.
Then half an hour with Saturn.
And watched Cygnus rise.
Not many good observing nights, so you have to make the most of them, especially with Mars near opposition. Luckily this one was a Saturday night.
Boots: From 22 years ago to today. The oldest pair take you for the walk themselves. To put them on is to place yourself in the hands of a professional; they just roll away and you have to consciously stop them. The middle pair have more room for thick socks, they weigh less, and do not take the initiative. The new boots are for Sunday morning strolls on undemanding ground. Their character is as yet unknown.
iii Watch Henry V
– the Kenneth Branagh film version, for the pleasure of watching Paul Scofield steal every scene in which he appears, and overshadow at least two scenes in which he does not.
Thousands of pancakes, past and present.
Last night was a long cold session trying every combination of eyepiece and Barlow and the cheap-and-cheerful filters to observe Mars with the 10″ scope. The light blue filter came out best. Red worked but made the image very dark. Having practised dropping the filters into the garden while screwing them in and out of the eyepieces with numb fingers, it may eventually be worth buying one or two good ones.
ii Make rusks
These are surprisingly pleasant on their own, keep well in a tin, and are good with soup or salad. And they are very easy to make in the middle of the night.
Cut off and discard crusts from slices of stale white bread, make narrow fingers, bake in moderate oven for 10 to 15 minutes until very dry and slightly golden. As these cooled I became aware of a curious phenomenon: if I listened very, very carefully, I could hear them making a tiny, secret, melodious chirping as if they talked among themselves.