Friday, April 25, 2008

Alas poor Pinky

His bucket is well and truly kicked. I can't help feeling he was better off before I treated him for his swim-bladder problem. And it's hard to argue that, since before I did, he was alive and now he's dead.

I am tempted to dispose of him in the bin, but I'll hang onto him in his Lemsip coffin until this afternoon. Last time I secretly disposed of a critter, I had to make up a graveside when S came back to me a few days later wanting to know where it was buried. Ahem, #embarrassed cough#.

She's taken the death remarkably well so far, just looking a little sad, while T just said "Oh dear, Pinky's dead, " and played with his cars some more. It wasn't unexpected. And a fish doesn't quite have the cuddlie-wuddlieness of our other more popular pets, the guinea pigs.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mansfield Park

I have recently rediscovered Austen, not having enjoyed her works at all in my youth, and this book is responsible for my different perspective and fresh enjoyment.

It is a darker book and more serious in tone than I had imagined. The protagonist Fanny is far less appealing superficially than many of Austen's other female leads: passive, sickly, dully dutiful and always right, but oddly I grew to like her very much. She is certainly not as attractive and likeable as Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, for example. She is a stoic and endures rather than actually *doing* anything; she is the moral centre while all the other characters are in flux, even her beloved Edmund, who supposedly instilled in her all that is of value. She is not immune to pressures or temptations, but she recognises them for what they are and does not succumb.

It's classic Austen territory with town and country values at odds, while taking a more complex and nuanced approach to her usual themes than other of her works led me to expect.

It was a surprise to me how much I enjoyed the novel, and it has meant that I have begun to revisit her other works. Pride and Prejudice was an awful lot funnier than I remembered it, so there's definitely something to be said for going back to those books that you couldn't get on with first time around. I wonder if it's that I'm older or that I'm reading for my own pleasure rather than for a school or college course?

Living Biblically

The Year of Living Biblically was an entertaining book: AJ Jacobs has a light and humorous writing style, which makes the book zip along.

I felt he managed to look at literalism & the Bible in a generous and surprisingly respectful way, despite the apparent irreverence of the project. He admits himself that he was far more comfortable with the Old Testament portion, being of Jewish descent (although agnostic himself) and it does show. The first 8 months or so spent on the OT are far stronger than the months devoted to the NT.

Some of the time he plays with literalism, doing some rather obvious set-pieces or skits: for example, where he stones a sinner (by dropping a pebble on his foot surreptiously) was laugh-out-loud-funny. At other times, he looks at the more out-there rules of ancient living more seriously and delves into what they could mean, with help from various religious advisors and through reading voraciously. Generally he finds the explanations and the historical context more plausible than he expected.

I felt there were issues and opportunities which he missed or treated more superficially than I'd have liked. His enjoyment of and absorption into the all-male Hasidic Jews' dance and the flicker of awareness when he consoles his wife with the knowledge that at least the women get to watch the dancing through viewing windows, a case in point. His wife seemed to have put up with an awful lot throughout the experience and I was delighted each time she got one over on him, such as while she was "unclean" sitting on every chair in their home so he could not. There were many other apparent inequities, issues and confusions which could have been examined or challenged in the book, but were not really touched upon.

He accepted as a given such things as morality needing to be instilled through religion, (the raising of his son being one of the matters that raised his interest in the project in the first place), which to me is not a given... Of course, it would have been a much larger tome had he attempted all I wanted him to!

In the end, it was a most engaging and amusing book, with some interesting insights. Not perhaps as profound as it could have been, but interesting.

What're you swearing?

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

I have to say I find this a disappointing result, never dreaming I was quite so goody-two shoes.

Gotta love Cornwall

These two pictures are taken within minutes of each other. We were playing on the beach in the sunshine while low clouds roiled over the hills behind us.


I am annoyed by David Cameron this morning.

I'm often annoyed by David Cameron and politicians in general, let's face it, but I hate the political capital that is made when someone allegedly backs down on an issue. This being concessions (with regard to the 10p tax rate thingymabob) that the government are making noises about.

I think it's bloody wonderful if a government that has made a stupid and potentially very damaging to its people type of mistake do something about it. Of course it'd have been much better if they hadn't done it in the first place, but at least they're making some sort of gesture*. And I think backbenchers should be able to make waves and change government policy, otherwise what's the frigging point of all these MPs? Just going grrr and yay in the appropriate places isn't worth an awful lot to me.

"The lady is not for turning" is not a beneficial attitude in my view. It's just your basic pigheadness and Idon'tgiveashit-ness. Which is not an attitude I'm acquitting the government of at all, just glad they've a rebellion on their hands and their arrogance is curtailed somewhat for a change.


* Possibly a v-sign, but let's be hopeful, eh?
** Non-specific epithet that may apply to any and all politicians, so don't you be thinking it doesn't include you, Mr Cameron, you smarmy, non-roadsign-obeying, followed-by-a-big-car-carrying-your-briefcase-not-so-green cyclist.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


This morning I took T to pre-school and was removing his coat to hang it on the peg, when I spied a ludicrously large spider upon his shoulder. It must have been hiding in the laundry pile and actually on his clothes when I put them on him this morning. Ewww.

Another parent gave me a very funny look as I endeavoured to flick the creature off m'boy without him noticing he had the spider on him and without actually touching its disgusting arachnid-ness directly. I think the father was much relieved when he understood what I was about. Otherwise it looked like I was completely deranged and so incompetent a parent as to have no idea how to remove a child's coat.

It was a victory for my self-control that I managed not to squeak or flap so badly that T noticed. I know it's a silly phobia, at least in this country where all our spiders are harmless and this dimension where mutant spiders can't give you special abilities.

And this spider lived, although the stamping and the leaping-up-and-down on the splattered carcass were much on my mind.

Amusingly, it was this top he was wearing:

Friday, April 18, 2008

In which I demand an explanation

Sometimes my bread maker turns out a lovely loaf of bread. Sometimes it doesn't. I give you this:

There seems no reason for this erratic performance as I use the same settings and ingredients every single time. I demand to know why.

Why? Why? Why?!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Speight of rumours

Pardon the terrible pun.

It is always, I feel, a good idea to avoid looking at the comments people add at the end of on-line news stories such as Mark Speight's suicide. Not only are some of the sentiments expressed less than edifying, (to paraphrase: 'serves 'im right and I allus thought his eyes were too close together' and what have you), textspeak offends me and the spelling & grammar there is often atrocious.

Is this a salient point? Possibly not. Is it intellectually snobby of me to want to dismiss anything someone writes when they can't be buggered to fill in all the letters of the words they presumably think are worth sharing? Probably.

I guess I can live with that indictment against my character, when confronted with such gems as "shame tallented guy ???? but was it quilt that finnished him off or just true love we,ll never no[.]"

The dastardly quilt of doom.

I shall never look at my duvet the same again.

SMart is/was one of my daughter's favourite programmes: she likes the arty crafty, make and do shows. On that basis alone, I'm sorry for his death, poor blighter.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Money money money money

In other money matters, I received today a letter demanding cash. Curiously not from any company I know I owe to. It claimed my bank had sold my debt to it. But it didn't have any details, other than a reference number I don't recognise, and it didn't have the full name of the bank on it. Curiously enough the bank in question is one I'm actually in credit with.

So I went in and talked to the bank, and they know not of what I speak, and my accounts with them are all fine: in fact they love me. Well, they'd probably love me more if I was in debt to them, as they could make money out of sending me rude letters, but that's by the by. They advised me to take the letter to the police station to check if it's a scam they're wise to, which I did, but they weren't.

I think I shall write to these people asking for more details of my alleged debt.

Or wait for the bailiffs.

Gooing gooing gone

I had a moment of clarity yesterday when I realised that 3 Cadbury cream eggs for a pound is not a bargain, it actually means paying an extra 60p for two extra eggs that I do not want or need. You can't fool me, Mr Supermarket-man.

Well, not that time.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Savage garden

Today we were sorting out the garden a bit, M burning hedge trimmings in the back garden and me digging up a tree stump. Which sounds more impressive than it is, it's only a small tree stump, and I still haven't managed to get it out. Mostly due to a sudden popping noise in the background.

Oh, what happened there, thought I, and tootled round to the back garden to find it deserted apart from the bonfire burning away. I found M indoors, having had something explode in the fire and hit him. In case any of you are excessively worried, I'll get on and relieve the suspense - he's OK although with a very impressive bruise and nasty looking wound on his torso. Later on, I found the remains of a battery: it must have been hiding in a cardboard box he burnt, all unbeknownst. All in all, I guess he was pretty lucky in an unlucky way - could have been his face or one of the kids, who were playing on the trampoline.

I like a dull life, me. All this excitement is no good at all.