Monthly Archives: June 2015

Bees and blues


This afternoon we experienced that bizarre phenomenon:  a cloudless sky.

Braced for action


It’s when you find out who your friends are.

First, a friend takes me to the most likely shops one after the other, ignoring ploys to distract her and circumventing my attempts to do a bunk, standing outside a series of changing rooms with inexhaustible patience.  We are on a quest for A Dress.  I must like it, it must like me, and I have to be able to afford it.  When we finally buy A Dress, she circumvents a few more escape bids while we find A Little Jacket and the Matching Shoes.

On the next shopping expedition I am alone.  I dither about the Bag, wishing for an advisor, and come home with three bags (luckily all cheap so I don’t have to curse too much).  Thank Heaven I am not the bride’s mother or near kin, and needn’t find a Hat.

Next another woman stands by at home, putting her head on one side, and then on the other, while I try every conceivable combination of Dress, Jacket, not-Jacket, Matching Shoes and not-matching shoes, all three bags plus one I found in the back of the wardrobe, and every bit of tinpot jewellery in my possession.  (It turned out to be pearls – how conventional.)  After this session we finally have An Outfit.

I then take advice again, and have a final (private) session deciding what to put under the Outfit.  I’m saying nothing.

Thus I turned out yesterday trusting that I would be reasonably warm if the day was cool; reasonably cool if the day was hot; decently covered from all likely angles; not look as if I was competing with the bride’s mother; would be able to walk; not look like mutton dressed as lamb, or like the poor relation; and would not resemble Postman Pat’s van or (worse) the recently dead, owing to unfortunate colour choices.

Thank you, ladies.  I owe you much.

Experimenting on my guinea pigs


I put the bars down between them.  One remained apparently oblivious.  The other ran his nose into the bars and looked both anxious and indignant.  They both dealt with the problem by eating dinner.  They have been separated so that I can run an experiment on them.

It’s for their own good – well, for Wolfgang’s, I hope.  He has become suddenly thin, a little bag of bones with the bounce taken out, while Alnitak remains plump and sleek.  Our vet poked and peered, could find nothing obvious.  Separation is the only way to find out what each piggy is eating and drinking, and luckily this is easy as they have two cages with one side taken out to join them. All I had to do was put a side back on, and now we have two cages, two water bottles, two little bedrooms, two bowls and two rather put out pigs.

two bottles

The mirror images are comical:  when one drinks from the water bottle, the other, cued by the rattle, goes to lap from his bottle; when one nuzzles and munches the goodies in his bowl, so does the other.

two bundles

I am weighing all the food put into each cage with ludicrous care, and then trying to weigh what remains later in the day. Too early to be sure; but I think the question is one of hay.  I hope I get it right, because the answer is either recovery or death.

Beating swords into ploughshares (well, leeks, piers, beehives)


Purely coincidentally, I found myself in Salisbury again yesterday evening.  Since my last visit, the barons have come out on their Magna Carta trail.  It’s my own belief that the real barons were not very nice people and don’t deserve much credit for a public-spirited concern for anyone’s civil liberties except their own, but it’s consoling to think how annoyed they would be to see themselves represented in this way.

Are you sitting comfortably?  (Click a thumbnail for the gallery)


Washing off old spit …


… and other questionable deposits, before the arrival of tomorrow’s guests.

Another guest and I ensured that it soon became a bad day on the railways.  (Click a thumbnail for the gallery)


One thousand two hundred and ninety three crisps


I don’t read many novels but made an exception. If you wish to be immersed, immersive fiction is the ticket.

1 musicAn equal music focuses on one member of a string quartet, who meets a former lover and becomes re-involved with her.  The relations between the members of the quartet, the relations of the musicians with their instruments, and indeed with individual pieces of music, which almost become characters in their own right, interested and engaged me.  Unfortunately as the love affair strand of the plot developed, I became considerably less interested, and developed a faint sense that I had been here before.  Now was that just me being Difficult?

2 sheepFor a change of pace, I tried a recent gift:  Norstrilia.  I hadn’t previously read any of Cordwainer Smith’s freewheeling SF inventions and yes, I did enjoy it, but it had one unfortunate element in common with An equal music: as the love affair developed, my enjoyment waned.  Give me more of the vasty diseased mutant sheep, I muttered.  Tell me about Mother Hitton’s Littul Kittons.  Love affairs I can get anywhere, penny plain and twopence coloured. Take your protagonists away and let them canoodle somewhere else.

3 600 crispsI was amused to find an unexpected link between The blind assassin and Norstrilia.  One important strand of the story is a sensationalist SF/fantasy tale complete with blue lizard-men with inflammable shorts, told in episodes by one of the protagonists.  These are salted in among the other strands of narrative, coming out at a doorstopping 600+ pages.

Herein lies the trouble with immersive fiction: it immerses you.  A few more pages, you think, just before bed.  It’s like having a big bag of crisps, too moreish to eat just a few, so you munch your way to the bottom of the packet.  Only I’m not sure that eating 1293 salt-and-vinegar straight is very good for you.