There has been the most ominous-looking light over north London for several hours now - a sort of copper colour. The sky is covered by a greyish cloud with wisps of whiter cloud drifting across it.
No rain, a bit of a breeze wafting through the trees in the street, but so far, nothing stronger.
The effect is somewhat John Martin-esque, or possibly requiring figures to run through the pocket park behind the house crying 'Heathcliff!' 'Cathy!'. Or at least, the foreshadowingly brooding overture to such.
I assume this is something to do with Hurricane Ophelia, even if so far this part of England is not supposed to be affected. This morning when I went shopping it was sunny and unusually warm, but I put that down to the Little Summer of St Luke.
This week's bread: the Blake/Collister My Favourite Loaf, white spelt/wholemeal/einkorn flour, made up with the remains of the buttermilk.
Saturday breakfast rolls: the adaptable soft roll recipe, 4:1 white spelt/buckwheat flour, maple sugar, dried blueberries.
Today's lunch: New Zealand venison loin medallions, panfried in butter, served with sweet potato oven fries, cauliflower florets roasted in pumpkin seed oil with cumin seeds (I think these could have done either with being cooked a bit longer, or broken up into smaller pieces), fennel cut into thinnish strips, healthy-grilled in olive oil, and splashed with elderflower vinegar.
This morning I learned in Mexico what had eluded me for five years in California: that not only does the Bay Area have an active cricket league, but that Sunnyvale has a cricket club which is a bright star in that league, and has a dedicated permanent cricket pitch a short cycle-ride from our house. I may have renewed sports fandom in my future. Ah, the crack of willow upon leather: how I have missed thee, my Hornby and my Barlow long ago!
Karen had a couple of utterly miserable days post-chemo, constantly sick and not at all interested in food. Ginger ale and water saw her through, with the aid of ginger candies; yesterday she had oatmeal for breakfast (how right was I, to bring steel-cut oats from California? *preens self*), a little soup for lunch and a little chicken and brussels sprouts for dinner. This morning I am making French onion soup and croutons, and we will see how the day plays out.
They're odd, these days. We're very detached from the world in here, and with Karen having been so sick we're a little detached from our own group as well. Everybody else had a roof-party yesterday, with real Mexican food and music; we lingered below in the backwash. We see doctors morning and evening, with Karen's shots; I go to the store as often as I can make excuse for it; otherwise we hang out in here, reading and dozing. We haven't even been watching much TV, though Netflix is a saviour and "Breaking Bad" turns out to be really rather good. I've been working on the Crater School - oh, and cooking, obviously - and I have The Count of Monte Cristo on my Kindle. An old friend, and always reliable. (Actually I think it a work of genius; our lawyer and I bonded over that, last month.)
With that first round of chemo having been so hard on Karen, we're anticipating a difficult second week, because the next round will be worse. But we're a quarter of the way through this whole process now, so that's a thing. And Karen will still be weak and immunocompromised, and it may be a year before she's fully recovered, but nevertheless. Our friends are awesome, and I'm there to do all the things, and with any luck it will all prove worthwhile. *nods affirmatively*
Oh, David Mitchell, I normally like and approve of your columns, but this one?
Which made me think of pretty much all societies, 'throughout history', where just because there was a belief in a higher power didn't mean that there wasn't massive conflict over: who was the real higher power and how best to worship that higher power. And even when there was a generally accepted overall belief system, there are differences within between schools of thought and practice (cf persecution of Christians or Muslims who are not of the predominant category within a particular nation). Heretics get persecuted at least as much as infidels.
And you may like to think
I know in my heart that had I been brought up in such a setting – say, in Anglican Victorian England – I wouldn’t have quibbled with those answers and would’ve been comforted by them.
That would Anglican Victorian England which a) pretty much invented the concept of honest doubt and b) within the C of E, massive conflicts between High and Low Church, no? Not so cosy.
Paging Mr Blake and the Ever-Lasting Gospel. Written at the same time that a large number of actual clergymen had gone into that line of work because they were the third son and it was a living, and why would anyone trouble themselves over the 39 Articles? and it gave them plenty of time off for hunting.
Article in today's Guardian Weekend by a bloke whose wife earns a lot more than he does in a high-powered job, and he is stay at home dad. And it's not egregiously annoying, but I was taken aback by this line, which is a quote from something else:
The post-industrial economy is indifferent to men’s size and strength
The guy in question was a journalist and his friends do not sound as though they were pursuing careers as stevedores, miners, steelworkers, etc etc, before the economy took a downturn. They had office/creative-type jobs.
And surely it's been true for quite a long time that, just as the majority of men have not been called upon to defend their country in arms, the majority of men have not been working in fields where size and brute strength were necessarily particularly relevant.
This is a point I tend to think of when I see some man sounding off about women can't [X] or there has been no female [Y], and I think, you know what, mate, I don't suppose you're all that fit for doing [X], and on the basis of your Facebook post/tweet, I don't think you're the new [Y]. They take the credit to themselves for any achievement by a man that demonstrates, they suppose, the ultimate superiority of their gender, rather than having a component of chance and opportunity (cf V Woolf on J Shakespeare).
Which I don't think is so much the case with women? if we cite e.g. Ada Lovelace, or Serena Williams, it is more to say, well, actually, women can.
‘...the Big Stone’. That’s all Kangchenjunga is. ... It might possess a semblance of animation, because of the wind, and the crack of canvas, and the distant rumble of an avalanche on the Saddle – but that’s all it is, a semblance. There is no life up here. And no menace, either. The Sherpas are wrong. This mountain has no spirit, no sentience and no intent. It’s not trying to kill us. It simply is. [loc. 1382]
Thin Air is set in the mid-1930s. Stephen Pearce, who's just broken with his fiancee, is glad to have been recruited by his brother Kits as the doctor for a mountaineering expedition. The expedition's goal is to climb Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, which has never been successfully summitted. ( a bit spoilery )
Because, at first, larf, I far lay on the ground, about this: First Meeting of Society to Establish a Minister for Men passes off without incident
But two door supervisors were deemed necessary on Wednesday evening to stop anyone entering the Pulteney Room who was not sympathetic to the views of the fledgling Society to Establish a Minister for Men.
What was scheduled to be the first meeting up the M5 at a pub in Cheltenham earlier this week was cancelled after – according to O’Pie – the landlord was warned there would be repercussions.
“We thought we had better be safe rather than sorry,” he told the Guardian. “We don’t want people to be frightened by feminist people shouting with banners.* I’ve had that before, it’s ridiculous.” But he added: “I’m being totally paranoid because nobody has turned up.”
The Pulteney Room and its environs were not packed. Around a dozen people, including one 18-year-old woman, attended the meeting. And there was just one protester outside.
As the Bath Choral Society rehearsed in a nearby room, O’Pie set out the society’s objectives. The Guardian was not allowed in, but was provided with a handout in an envelope labelled: “Please read BEFORE you condemn.”
The handout argues that “male-specific problems and issues” rarely appear in the media, are deliberately neglected in schools and universities and are not addressed anywhere in the political system.**
It states that male MPs do not represent men but female politicians do represent women, because they “think, bond and therefore act as a political gender group across party lines”.
**In the splendid tradition of 'Why is there No International Men's Day'***/White History Month/Straight Pride'.
***19th November, for your information.
This, we may add somewhat wearily, in a week during which Men Are Terribly Poor Stuff And They Get Away With It was turned up to 11 or more.
O’Pie, a father of three, said he was not disappointed at the turnout and vowed to press on.
O’Pie is a veteran of the Fathers4Justice movement, which involved activists taking part in stunts and demonstrations dressed as superheroes. He has written a book called Why Britain Hates Men: Exposing Feminism, and earlier this year, he and Holbrook unsuccessfully took on the Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips by delivering leaflets asking constituents if they really want a “feminist as your MP”.
One is inclined to think 'lone crank', and that anybody who turned up was either coming in out of the rain, waiting for their spouse to emerge from the Choral Society rehearsal and their phone charge had died, or were merely there for the lols.
On the other paw, when I think of all the good causes that began with a very few people regarded as crazy or evil, historian is not entirely sure that this paradigm does not also work for really bad causes.
Other people in the group are having other symptoms, but I think Karen's the only one who's still throwing up. They say it should last no more than forty-eight hours, so fingers crossed.
In other news, there is no other news. During this stage of the treatment we don't have to go anywhere; the medications she needs are brought to us here in the apartment, in the form of injections morning and evening to stimulate her stem cells and encourage them to move from her marrow to her bloodstream, where they can be more readily harvested. Also she has many pills to take, but those are here in our little blue bag, ready to be supplemented by others from the little white bag at need and on instruction. Instructions come through the cellphone we were given; we are a WhatsApp community, chit-chatting back and forth from our separate monkish cells. That's probably why it's called a cellphone, right?
There's a communal area up on the roof which is actually rather nice. Views of Popacatepetl and so forth. Karen's not up for going there just now, but hopefully in a day or two, when she's feeling better. Meanwhile I shop and work and noodle on the internets. And scratch. I have mosquito bites all up one shoulder, and it turns out that mosquito bites are itchy. They itch for days. Who knew?
( Read more... )
14SEP17: Outlaws to In-Laws, King's Head Theatre
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20SEP17: Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Wimbledon Odeon
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21SEP17: Giselle, English National Ballet at Sadler's Wells
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30SEP17: The Tempest, Greenwich Theatre
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(And I really don't think it's going to discourage people putting their bags on the seats: in fact I envisage them building a defensive redoubt of the things.)
People don't want to talk to one another on public transport, or at least, not to random strangers. I am moderately amused that this is being put into practice in one of those parts of the country which one vaguely assumes is not like the Anomic Metroples, full of atomised sad lonely individuals who can only be brought to exchange words in the face of disaster, when Blitz Spirit kicks in and we all start singing London Pride.
Though, honestly, Wiltshire and Dorset? are we not then in Hardy Country? would you want to get into conversation with a Hardy character on a bus? We think not. Who knows what it would lead to? (even if they were not clutching a boar's pizzle.) Also, they would be on the wrong bus going in the wrong direction.
What I read
Finished the book on the Frankaus - less on Pamela than I should have liked, and the overall structure was non-linear but not thematic, so occasionally a bit confusing. It looks as though as a literary family they had serious form over including real people thinly disguised, or at least, plausibly identifiable, in their fiction, and also in not being entirely reliable narrators of events in their own lives.
Simon R Green, Dead Man Walking (2016) and Very Important Corpses (2017), 2 & 2 in the Ishmael Jones sequence, which combine the usual eldritch horrors and snarky fighter/s against the powers of darkness within a riff on the country-house (or other isolated enclosed community) mystery.
Matt Wallace, Envy of Angels (Sin du Jour #1) (2015): because this was a freebie of something that keeps popping up on my recs lists. Enjoyable - would not say 'hilarious' - might read another.
Margaret Maron, Take Out (2017). The long-awaited return of Lt Sigrid Harald (though there was a cross-over with the Deborah Knott series), and as such, a fair amount of catch-up on various existing strands, and that problem that the last entry in the series was over twenty years ago, but this takes place in real time just after that, which can sometimes feel a bit weird.
On the go
Finally have a copy of Roberta Rubenstein, Literary Half-Lives: Doris Lessing, Clancy Sigal, and Roman à Clef (2014) - not only was her relationship with Sigal the inspiration for Saul Green in The Golden Notebook (and other works) he too made use of the episode in his own (I would guess, much less well-known) works (though I think I read Weekend in Dinlock very many years ago; also have a - charity-shop find - copy of his novel based on his experience at RD Laing's Kingsley Hall); and am working my way through it.
Apart from various things which have either finally appeared, or the ebook price has come down to what I consider reasonable for an ebook, have also got some academic press freebies for refereeing.