I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue
The collected letters of Mrs Trellis
Round 1: the trail of the lonesome pun 
Wednesday was the hottest July day on record in Britain. At least 36.7C/98F in the shade at Heathrow, and 32.1C/90F in the shade outside my window. And, no, British architecture is generally not equipped to deal with those sorts of temperatures. On the plus side, I decided to defrost my fridge-freezer and the ice monster lurking in the freezer compartment died in under an hour. Appropriately, its right wing crumbled first while its left wing clung on to the end through a bitter struggle, lol, VICTORY IS MINE!!1!! \o/ My home reached 24C/75F yesterday morning, and stayed there overnight, and should cool down a degree or two today, partly because due to my long-term malfunctioning internal thermostat I chose a rental that's both north-facing and shaded (which are also unpopular characteristics and therefore cheaper). Normally I'd be suffering at 24C/75F but clearly I'm even more broken than usual at the moment because at some points yesterday I was wearing a jumper and/or drinking hot drinks, lol, and I slept comfortably last night. Today the weather here outside is forecast to be rainy and no more than 19C/66F. The (sub)urbanites of south-east of England and continental Europeans in hot spots have my sympathies.

Take what you need... strength, rest, passion

Take what you need (from this random act of street art)... strength, rest, passion. Or you could have my empathy and love. ♥

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/539084.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
- Weather: my favourite subject! My home reached 23C at 9am this morning and will probably be at least 25C tonight and, no, I don't have any form of air conditioning because British, obv. It'll be hotter than that outside but I don't have to go out today, yay, and the forecast is predicting cooler weather tomorrow. I plan to use the might of the angry Sun Goddess to kill the ice monster that has invaded and occupied my fridge-freezer. The tiny ice giant will be powerless against the onslaught... except in as far as it seems to have the power to pool on my cheap and easily damaged laminate kitchen floor despite my best efforts with bowls and towels &c. BAH! In other news, my water company managed to schedule turning off our water for seven hours on the hottest night of the year so far, lol. Still, at least it was a planned stoppage and they warned us in advance. ::wryface::

- Raveningham Hall (aka Ravi), built 1944, is a Modified Hall Class loco, which means she has a larger superheater than the original Hall Class locos, such as Kinlet Hall (built 1929), and this results in ENTHUSIASTIC ENGINE SOUNDS and VOLCANIC CLOUDS OF STEAM, which is all a bit unnecessary if we're being honest. Note in case you're wondering: Kinlet Hall sounds asymmetrical like a heartbeat, while the Odney Manor (built 1950) doesn't seem to feel the need to indulge in heavy breathing while exercising. I couldn't decide which of the first two image crops I preferred so, again, I decided to let you and flickr tell me. :-)

R2 Raveningham Hall, 6960, Williton, West Somerset Railway 06-15

Three more small images.Collapse )

R5 Raveningham Hall, 6960, Stogumber, West Somerset Railway 06-15

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/538771.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
I completed [community profile] flaneurs June challenge Doing Something Different IIIc, random cafe, in Birmingham.

The Road to Damascena (Bordesley to Moseley)

Three more small images.Collapse )

D03 Hummus, fattoush, pickled vegetables, and three fatayer from Damascena, Moseley, Birmingham 06-15

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/538408.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
Have you ever wanted to see a steam loco being towed by a diesel? Today is your lucky day!!1!! This is the diesel-electric D6575, "Seagull", built in 1961, towing the steam loco 3850, built in 1942, and the passenger train that 3850 was scheduled to haul from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead. All because 3850 had started the day with a slight senior moment.

D6575 towing steam loco 3580, Williton, West Somerset Railway 06-15

3580 being towed by diesel-electric D6575, Williton, West Somerset Railway 06-15

Three steam locos in maintenance and 3850 in action.Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/538168.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
- Vera srs politicle philosofy: I now have a definitive answer to the question, originally posed by graffiti in Worcester, "Why can't I be King?"

Sword in stone, Taunton Castle 06-15

It's because I couldn't pull the sword from the stone outside Taunton Castle. Of course, this means that, assuming power tools are cheating, no-one else should be king either. A lesson for us all!!1!! ;-)

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/538009.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
boz4pm Blackadder Cunning Plan
- Neologismical: brain sharks seem to be doing the rounds. I'm not prone to brain weasels (and I like stoats and weasels anyway!) but I do suffer from brain sharks, i.e. sometimes the old part of my brain that's supposed to protect me from sharks &c, by making me anxious enough about them to avoid potential encounters, wrongly labels things that aren't sharks as OMG SHARKS and I have a freeze/flight/fight response. People who have been abused, whether as individuals or because they're part of a demographic regularly targeted for abusive discrimination, and people with anxiety disorders are amongst those most likely to suffer from brain sharks because we've been trained to fear [probable source of abuse] and/or [anxiety trigger] as if it's a shark. And, of course, just as many women have legitimate fear of "schrodinger's rapist" so other groups have legitimate fears that an internal brain shark might turn out to be an external physical attacker. We never know, for example, when racists are going to escalate from spewing verbal abuse at us to hacking our hands off with a machete in a supermarket, or shooting us dead in church. Brain sharks: easier for some people to dismiss than others.

- Doingness: have I mentioned recently that the scent of Dylon washing machine dye is the sweet smell of success? I finished clearing out my wardrobe and re-dyed three more sun hats, three pairs of socks (that now match my previously re-dyed trousers), four slightly faded t-shirts and one I inexplicably bought in a colour that didn't suit me (I suspect it was a three-for-two offer and I foolishly decided to buy a third colour instead of repeating one). One of the fab things about the Dylon is that it's not strong enough to dye all the items into one uniform colour but produces a range of matching shades. The shades achieved from "Jeans Blue" dye on various blue and grey base colours ranged from a mid-blue like stonewashed denim, via a purply blue, some mildly turquoisey jeans blues, and true blue jeans blues, to an almost black navy blue. The hideous pinky t-shirt was a poly-cotton mix so it ended up not purple, as I expected, but a deep wine red with rich dark blue marling/speckling. Sorted!

- Listening, and sharing because I can: Jimmy Cliff covers Ruby Soho (3mins, utu) originally by Rancid during their ska punk phase.

- Reading, books 2015. 88: Moominland Midwinter, by Tove Jansson. Delightful. (4/5) Thanks to [personal profile] antisoppist for the rec.

"There are such a lot of things that have no place in summer and autumn and spring. Everything that’s a little shy and a little rum. Some kinds of night animals and people that don’t fit in with others and that nobody really believes in. They keep out of the way all the year. And then when everything’s quiet and white and the nights are long and most people are asleep - then they appear."

- So, what are you doing, thinking, wondering about, reading, watching, making, or writing, that you don't usually post about?

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/537783.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
boz4pm Blackadder Cunning Plan
I completed [community profile] flaneurs June challenge Lines IIa, follow that railway, in Birmingham.

01 Moor Street railway station and Selfridges, Birmingham 06-15

Quest for the Lost Viaduct of Bordesley (Moor Street to Bordesley)

12 more small images.Collapse )

13 (Image search failed to find someone to credit, sorry) Bordesley Viaduct, Birmingham

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/537570.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
- Mini-flannage, the Minehead manoeuvres: I attempted [community profile] flaneurs June challenge IIId, take the first turning left then the second turning right, four times from the same point, although two of those involved reversing the instructions and taking the first turning right and the second turning left. I also incidentally did two different short versions of IIIc, navigate to a random cafe, and a IIa, follow the railway. I didn't have a map on me when I walked.

I completed IIId, take the first turning left then the second turning right, four times from the crossroads near my B&B, although two of those involved reversing the instructions and taking the first turning right and the second turning left. The only difference if I'd turned around and done them all as first left then second right would've been that I'd've walked further along the Esplanade. These proved brief excursions due to the lack of second turnings on three occasions and ending up in a car park on the fourth. I didn't see anything especially interesting, but that part of suburban Minehead is generally pretty, and I did enjoy my exploratory evening strolls, although (1) I was wolf-whistled and mildly heckled about my clothing by some local lads, and (2) I passed a girl crying and shouting at someone in a car (she didn't want assistance), and (3) I also passed an older man effing and blinding at a female relative. None of these incidents felt threatening *to me*. On other occasions I endured (1) a spectacular example of family breakdown street theatre from the inmates at Butlins and (2-3) two unforgivable examples of child endangerment by holidaymakers on the railway (in one case I would've reported them to social services if I'd had any way of identifying them). Below is a map of my four brief IIId flans and my route along the railway. The dark blue dots are beginning and ending points with dark blue line routes in between, and the light blue dots indicate the roads I walked along to return to my starting point. Luckily, the aerial view isn't a swastika.

Three more small images and two more short walk reports.Collapse )

04 Beach with one kite surfer, Minehead 06-15

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/537290.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
ish icons Curiosity Cures Boredom
- Comings and goings: I have returned from mine holiday jollities and, despite the best efforts of my fruit-napping so-called "friends" and the West Somerset catering industry, I don't have scurvy! (Srsly, the only vegetables I saw while I was away were the grilled tomato accompanying full English breakfasts, a tablespoon of peas, and the pinch of limp salad that Brits seem to feel obliged to serve with everything these days.) There was no crazy golf due to persistent winds of 30+mph, and at one point while walking along the seafront I could hardly stand up (!). There was no point at which I was wearing less than a t-shirt and jumper whilst walking, and usually also a second jumper and a wind-proof coat. When we decided to attempt an obligatory ice cream, after having warmed up marginally by walking up a steep hill, I was so cold my mouth went numb and not only could I not taste the ice cream but I also became physically incapable of licking my own lips, lol. Although there was ♥ good companionship ♥ and there were trains and trains and more trains, so yay jollyday! Also, someone had changed a sign for Staplegrove into "ST PLEBROVE" which made me lol.

GWR railway window, by Clare Maryan Green, at St Andrews Church, Taunton

- Reading, books 2015, 86.

86. Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula, by Elise Stokes, is superhero themed novel, which I'm assuming was self-published because it reads as if it hasn't been past the eye of a professional editor. The superpowers are hand-waved the usual way, i.e. biology and physics are both basically magic. The author claims she wrote it to provide role models for her daughters (and that it was intended as YA although she seems to have back-pedalled to "middle-grade" at some point), which would explain why the two teenage lead characters are so painfully unrealistic. Before I'd seen the author's background I'd already written: This reads as if it's PG rated superhero fanfic written by the 14 year old heroine's housewife (soccer) mom (who only exists to clean the kitchen and prepare food), e.g. a fourteen year old girl describes herself and her siblings: "[...] we tended to become rambunctious." I spent the whole novel waiting for mentions of the Abrahamic God and wasn't at all surprised when God gets a near-death experience mention on pg234 followed by a sudden serpent tempter metaphor on pg239. Unsurprisingly the values on display are shallow, e.g. when reassuring the superpowered teenage heroine, who has accidentally injured a classmate at school, the teenage male lead lists her good qualities as: "You're a beautiful, intelligent, brave girl and inferior to no-one." Because rating her physical attractiveness must always come first even though he doesn't show any signs of finding her attractive!!1!! There are also vocabulary errors and verbal tics on display, such as "reigning in" for "reining in", and "unarm" (obsolete) for "disarm". Our heroine's family came across to me as a creepy set-up in which none of them, either the two adults or the three children, seem to leave the house or socialise apart from the dad's work and the children's school (I wouldn't be at all surprised if the author is in favour of complete control over her children "home-schooling"). There were also odd gendered moments such as when our 14 year old heroine's younger brother, who shares a bedroom with her 14 year old male twin, is sent by their mom to share our heroine's bed instead, because... idek... girls are more child-caring and comforting wtf?! Also, as it's implied the house has four bedrooms then why are the two boys sharing or is this another error? (1/5 for substandard writing and, frankly, creepiness.)

- So, what are you doing, thinking, wondering about, reading, watching, making, or writing, that you don't usually post about?

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/536901.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
I completed [community profile] flaneurs June challenge Lines II.(c). This local council walk was the Stafford Town Trail (pdf) that I was given free at the tourist information office. Stafford isn't geared up for tourists and finding the city centre information office proved a minor challenge (credit to the volunteer at St Mary's church who directed me). The Town Trail was created by the local Lions Club (a charitable organisation) and seems mostly aimed towards local people learning more about their urban history, which is entirely reasonable due to the comparative rarity of tourists. The paper copy I was given had been stapled together in the wrong order, which left me additionally confused. I liked Stafford though. The extensive pedestrianisation, and town centre park along the River Sow, made urban walking a pleasure. But I spent too much time consulting my trail papers and not enough looking around me, especially as it was my first visit. Most of my favourite experiences weren't connected with the trail. The responses of the locals to the idea that I'd actually chosen Stafford as a destination were 100% amused disbelief, which left me bemused and saddened for what seemed like an interesting county town.

11 more small images.Collapse )

I also passed a building, not considered trail-worthy, with a spectacular dragon mascaron, which made me wonder how many similar joys I'd missed while face down in the town trail paperwork.

12 Dragon mascaron, Stafford, 06-15

I sat on a bench and chatted with a man training a labrador puppy as a guide dog. On my way back to the station I saw a council worker with a five inch mohican, and spotted a pied wagtail flycatching along the River Sow.

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/536708.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
ish icons Curiosity Cures Boredom
- So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu! I might not be around much next week as I'm being abducted dragged away from home on an urgent holiday. I did try explaining to my friend, when she phoned to tell me I'm going invite me, that I couldn't leave now because all my carefully purchased and nurtured fruit is about to achieve the pinnacle of ripe perfection but she claimed that wasn't a valid reason not to go to the seaside. I didn't have much time to argue with her as I had to go out and do ALL the things. When I returned I discovered that there was only one piece of each sort of fruit remaining in my fruit bowl and a ransom note on the kitchen worktop explaining that if I didn't co-operate then I would NEVER SEE MY FRUIT AGAIN. The moral of this story, children, is "Don't give a door key to your evil friends." Also, holiday.

- The management apologise for the late running of the A113 and 2M65 from Bristol to Laverton, which was due yesterday. Passengers are advised to avoid the hole in the space-time continuum on Platform 9 3/4. Passengers will also be relieved to hear that these images of L721, a three vehicle BR Class 117 railcar running as one double-headed train, are the last of my caps from my visit to the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway. And, YES, this is the DMU that appeared in the Doctor Who "series 8" episode Flatline.

Railcar 2C63, Toddington, GWR 05-15

Four more small images.Collapse )

Those trains from Flatline, aka a BR Class 117 DMU, aka L721

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/536379.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
- "Top Gear goes dingo": thanks to James Nicoll, I shall never again lack a succinct description of the Mad Max films.

- The chuffing City of Wells. I spent a day at the end of May on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway. I travelled on trains hauled by two different West Country class steam locomotives, both only visiting the GWR for a couple of weeks, and also on a railcar which is a special sort of diesel locomotive. The two West Country locos are nicknamed "spam cans" due to their shape, with ugly "air-smoothed" panels. The 34092 City of Wells steam loco, built in 1949, was running under its original name of "Wells" with a black nameplate instead of the classic red (and, for the last run of the day with a Canberra P&O Orient Line headboard). In the 1950s City of Wells hauled Bulganin and Kruschev from Portsmouth to London, amongst other visiting dignitaries. I couldn't decide which of the first two caps I liked best so I thought I'd let t'interwebz tell me which it prefers.

C01 City of Wells 34092, GWR 05-15

Six more small images.Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/536302.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
Diesel 2182, outside Winchcombe carriage works, GWR 05-15

- Little diesel shunters are the only sort of locomotive I've had a lifelong ambition to drive, although I've recently decided I'd also like to drive a tube train. I took these caps of D2182, built 1962, on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway outside the carriage works at Winchcombe, which is precisely the sort of place D2182 was designed to work. ♥ BR Class 03 locos ♥

Diesel 2182, BR Class 03 shunter, GWR 05-15

- Reading, books 2015, 85.

85. The Masque of the Black Tulip, by Lauren Willig, is a romance dummy minimally dressed-up in "Regency" cliches with a Carry On [Napoleonic] Spying backdrop, all minimally set within a 21st century Bridget Jonesy framing story.

Cut for overly detailed bitching. /self-awarenessCollapse )

If you like gentle overly long mildly comedic "Regency" romances starring thick leads, and don't care about anything else then Masque of the Black Tulip will occupy your brain for nearly 500 pages. I personally enjoyed the beginning (by pretending it was a fantasy genre story), was bored by the middle, and nearly didn't finish the last 50 pages because I found them unreadably bad (although the moment when the author accidentally referred to her heroine Henrietta in terms that recalled Henrietta/Duckface from Four Weddings and a Funeral made me lol). I can understand why this might be 4/5 for readers who enjoy this sub-genre but for me it was 2/5 for the lively readable prose and nul points for everything else. (2/5)

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/536027.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
- Seasonal journalling: apologies to anyone who isn't obsessed with trains and urban walking but it's that time of year again. Normal service will be resumed when the weather changes and I go back to posting relentlessly about bigger books and vintage girls comics.

- Legal ruling of the [random time period]: 'The actor's performance in a chicken costume was neither competitive nor unfair....' [...] 'Those provisions, preventing appearances in any chicken suit whatsoever, invalidly restrict [the actor's] rights to earn a living and to express himself as an artist.' [...] '[employer] claims this language establishes its contractual monopoly of all rights in the KGB Chicken and of the "costume" or the "concept" of a chicken.' The ruling also quotes (supposed) case law dating back to England in 1415. Yeah, I hear that Sherif Sanders was a martinet about protecting his Kent Roast Duck franchise! Also, if there's a KGB Chicken in California then is there a Stasi Pig in North Carolina? (Full case ruling via [personal profile] marginaliana, who can be thanked by commenting on this post.)

- Dreaming in steam: so far this year I've been on trains hauled by the loco with a tendency to derail, and two of the locos with a tendency to catch fire, lol.

I spent a day at the end of May on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway, travelling as far as it's possible to go from Cheltenham Racecourse station via Gotherington, and Winchcombe, to Toddington, and beyond the furthest station on the Laverton Loop which the GWR (cheeky use of that acronym by this lot) are currently extending to a new station at Broadway which is due to open in 2018. I travelled on trains hauled by two different West Country class steam locomotives, both only visiting the GWR for a couple of weeks, and also on a railcar which is a special sort of diesel locomotive. The two West Country locos are nicknamed "spam cans" due to their shape, with ugly "air-smoothed" panels. One of the West Country locos was the 34007 Wadebridge, built in 1945.

W01 Wadebridge 34007, Winchcombe, GWR 05-15

Five small images in total.Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/535598.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
- Quotation of the [random time period]: "If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, sir, should keep his friendship in a constant repair." - Samuel Johnson

1936 LNER railway coach modified for wheelchairs, plural, Severn Valley Railway 04-15

- Wheelchair accessible antique steam trains: "The LNER Fund’s restoration of [coach] No.24105, also at Bewdley, was extensive. After much careful thought, it was modified to give access for up to four wheelchairs, retaining its control train double door modification to facilitate this. By fitting an extra half door on the side opposite to the existing double doors, wheelchairs can enter the coach from either side. This helps towards the SVR's long term aim of having a wheelchair-friendly vehicle in each train set. As modified to Diagram 186A, No.24105's seating capacity was initially reduced [from ?64?] to 50 seats, though this has since been reduced to 47 to make space for more than four wheelchairs. One of the two original lavatories is retained in a modified form to allow wheelchair access – though not quite to the dimensions of a standard size disabled person's toilet." I love that heritage railway enthusiasts, mostly amateurs, are spending their volunteered time and donated money modifying precious and largely irreplaceable rollingstock (and stations) to be more accessible for mobility impaired people. I also love their understanding that people who use wheelchairs often socialise with other wheelchair users.

- Thinking about so-called "evolutionary psychology": let us henceforth term it evol-psych and be done with it. /lexicophilia

- Headline of the [random time period]: 'A woman who breached a court order that barred her from making "loud sex noises" has been jailed.' o_O

- So, what are you doing, thinking, wondering about, reading, watching, making, or writing, that you don't usually post about?

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/535501.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
- Opera and advertising: I was sent a flyer for, and I quote, "Bizet / Carmen / Featuring Caspian the majestic Andalucian stallion". I assume he's more Champion the Wonder Horse than, y'know, the other sort of Spanish stallion, ahem. The same company are also advertising "Puccini / Tosca" with an image of their diva apparently about to sacrifice a parrot with a gold-plated letter opener. I suspect it's a stock image of an eagle but someone has 'shopped it with a +DRAMA tool until its face turned blue. There's a metaphor in there somewhere but I don't think it's the one they intended, lol.

- Mrs unBeaten's Book of Household Managing: I need to do the washing up today because I've run out of spoons LITERALLY!!1!! I might have stirred my drink this morning with a small dessert spoon, lol.

- House martins nesting: they're working in pairs to collect beak-fulls of mud, from ruts in a church car park, to daub the nests they build hanging under the eaves of houses.

2 images.Collapse )

- Reading, books 2015, 83.

81. Ten, the New Wave, edited by Karen McCarthy Woolf, is an anthology of work by ten non-white British poets, five women and five men. The styles and subjects are pleasingly varied. Most readers will find something to love and something to hate. My favourite poems were by (in book order): Warsan Shire, Rishi Dastidar, and Kayo Chingonyi. There were also four lines by Eileen Pun that I disliked intensely, lol. (4/5)

82. Confessions, Astro City vol.2, Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson, is a good quality, mainstream, superhero graphic novel. Busiek's script is well supported by Anderson art. (4/5)

83. Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth, by Warsan Shire, poetry pamphlet. I have no words because Ms Shire owns them all. (5/5)

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/535159.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
I completed a walk in anticipation of the [community profile] flaneurs June challenge (Lines II.c). This local council walk was the Lichfield Heritage Trail that I was given free at tourist information in the city. My route from the station to tourist information at St Mary’s (not at the Garrick Theatre as is claimed in the Heritage Trail leaflet) took me through Tudor Row.

01 Tudor Row, Lichfield 05-15

I also looked around the Lichfield Heritage Centre in St Mary’s while I was there. The stairs went up past an 1868 stained glass window depicting St Mary wearing too much concealer.

02 St Mary"s, Lichfield, 1868 stained glass, 05-15

12 more small images.Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/534823.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
- Anonymous sock puppies. Last night I had a close encounter with a sad/rabid puppy sockpuppet. It was trying to wrap itself in the flag like a sad sockpuppy.

Flag-draped dog on conservative sofa

But by reputation it's a rabid sockpuppy.

Pomeranian wearing fogey argyle socks

- Quotation of the [random time period]: "There is nothing too little for so little a creature as man. It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible." - Samuel Johnson

- Reading, books 2015, 80.

79. Ms Marvel, vol 2, Generation Why, by G Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Jacob Wyatt, is the second collected volume of Wilson's good quality, mainstream, superhero comics about teenaged Ms Marvel. (4/5)

80. Northbridge Rectory, by Angela Thirkell, 1941, (3.5/5) is the nth novel in Thirkell's zombie Barsetshire series. WARNING for the romantic hero saying some horrific, literally fascist/Nazi, things about disabled people. The cover of my Carroll & Graf paperback bizarrely sports a stock image of a pre-1914 lady out shooting. This novel is Thirkell aiming more towards Barbara Pym territory and is technically a better written novel than its immediate predecessor. After the minor gentry and malicious satire of Cheerfulness Breaks In, Northbridge Rectory is more a satirical comedy of manners set amongst the wealthier middle classes. The main point of view character is a Rector's wife who is surprisingly upper middle class and has two housemaids, a cook, a kitchen maid, and a gardener, even during 1940. Most of the rest of the pov characters have had to economise down to one full-time maid (oh the deprivation! ::clutches very expensive pearls::) and the Rector's wife is distressed that she has to pretend some of them could be thought of as friends, because of the war effort, instead of mere nodding acquaintances, because of her social position. Thirkell has another pop at working class people supposedly being unable to spell by naming two evacuees "Derrick", even though Derik is the correct shortened form of Diderik (from Theodoric, see also Frederick and some Rodericks) and Derek is an affected form. The author's hate and fear of urban working class people was mostly redirected away from evacuees and towards spivs' molls this time. Although she does also manage to write the romantic hero of the book, Captain Topham (who is as thick as two short Tory Boys*), as supporting German mass-murder of "the insane" (pg123) and spewing an ethnic slur (pg309) at a Welshman (who was an intelligent and conscientious Captain whom Thirkell clearly couldn't think of any other way to denigrate). I did wonder if Thirkell was trying to position herself more favourably towards the Nazis in case Britain was successfully invaded, especially with her new and much nastier mini-obsession with "mental defectives" (especially when she'd written surprisingly even-handed autistic characters before). My favourite moment was the misprint in my copy that led to someone being markedly "narkedly fascist", lol, although Thirkell dissecting racy Raj-fanfic written by old India hands (pg277) was also lolarious.

On women: Ever since they first met he had been conscious that she was different from other women, a quality, if he had stopped to think, peculiar to every woman that has ever lived.

On the potential social upheavals of Britain being invaded by Nazi Germany: "That is if we get an Easter at all this year for I could not possibly worship Odin."

On the season of goodwill to all: Christmas, so long looming over everyone's head, finally surged up, buried everyone alive and ebbed away, leaving its victims distinctly cross.

* This is Captain "Topsy" Topham's proposal to his girlfriend: "Well, talking of getting married and all that, you know that old uncle of mine that has the place in Norfolk where I do birdwatching. Well, he conked out last week, so I am the Squire."

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/534549.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
- Silhouette.

Silhouette, Birmingham, 2014

- Watching people outside my local supermarket. As I entered the shop I saw a woman with a double-fist-sized moomin hanging from the hip of her dungarees, and I couldn’t decide if it looked like a cute mascot or as if she’d been hunting moomins. As I exited with my shopping I saw a man wearing TWO wide-brimmed hats. The under-hat was yellow and the over-hat was pink. I’ve actually stopped noticing anything less incongruous than this because living here has recalibrated my oddity-o-meter.

- SCENTING VICTORY: I’d forgotten how much I like the smell of machine wash-in dye, specifically Dylon’s blue jeans colour, because it is made of TRIUMPH, of the magic power to rejuvenate faded trousers and cloth sun hats, and of the essence of joy that is not having to go clothes shopping for replacements for at least another couple of years, YES! I also love Dylon for making a perfect working product that does exactly what it claims provided you follow the wholly comprehensible instructions. Dylon reckon that one pack of dye covers one pair of jeans but by the time jeans need re-dyeing they’re worn and absorbent enough that one pack will cover two pairs of jeans (and not dye the contrast stitching provided it’s polyester or nylon thread). This time I managed perfect colour coverage on two pairs of linen trousers, one pair of cotton trousers, and two cloth sun hats.

- Reading, books 2015, 78.

78. Secret Identity, by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen, is a graphic novel about Clark Kent/Superman if he was a human living in our 'verse and was teased about being "Clark Kent" at his Kansas school and then weirded out when he develops powers similar to the comic book Superman. The story follows Our Hero, mostly in his private moments, through a normal lifespan. Immonen's artistic skills and Busiek's authorial style complement each other very well. Recommended if you like this sort of thing, which I do. (4.5/5)

- So, what are you doing, thinking, wondering about, reading, watching, making, or writing, that you don't usually post about?

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/534387.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
8:47 am Sun 17/5/15 - In which Cheerfulness Breaks In
Reading, books 2015, 77.

77. Cheerfulness Breaks In, by Angela Thirkell, 1940, is another novel in Thirkell's zombie Barsetshire series. (3.5/5 because it’s funny). Warning: I was reading a later USian edition that has substantive alterations from the English original, such as changing the background of the family of fifth columnists from the original Jewish-German Warbury/Warburg to the new German Gissing/von Giesing, i.e. from anti-Semitic to anti-German-spy implications. Thirkell’s letters reveal that even long after the war she didn’t understand why anyone who wasn’t Jewish might have a problem with her nouveau riche German fifth columnists who work in the media being Jewish. English upper middle class "Shire Tory" Conservatism ahoy! So also expressing pervasive top-down class war and a sprinkling of racism. Just sayin’.

"I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher; but, I don't know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in." - Mr Edwards to Dr Johnson, 17 April 1778

As I’ve mentioned before the author is a not especially bright Shire Tory whose County family sagas satirise everyone but favour upper middle class women (and would, I suspect, satirise the lower middle classes harder if she understood enough about them to do so). As an old school Shire Tory she likes rural peasants in their place, and putting them in their place, but hates and fears the urban poor. Cheerfulness Breaks In is certainly funny and has some engaging characters but, as so often in Thirkell’s zombie Barsetshire novels, the structure of the story is more realistically untidy than well-plotted, although in this particular case I can wholly forgive an author wobbling more than usual when trying to fictionalise and satirise people’s reactions to the Second World War as it was happening, especially when the last event in the book is Dunkirk and most people believed a German invasion of Britain would follow within months. For this reason I also forgive Thirkell for the unnecessary cliffhanger when the newly married Lydia (nee Keith) receives a telegram with unspecified contents, while so many families in the real world were waiting for news and dreaded telegrams.

I also appreciated the nod towards the Italian invasion of Ethiopia/Abyssinia in 1935 as a beginning of the Second World War in the sense that it was a global war and not two separate wars: an East and Southeast Asian and Pacific war between the Japanese and everyone else, beginning in 1931 or 1937; and another war beginning in 1938 or 1939 that was mostly fought between the European Axis powers and the Allies in Europe, but spilling over into West Asia and across the Mediterranean into North Africa (although the Italian/German Axis didn’t formally exist until 1936). Most English people still wouldn’t acknowledge a "colonial war" by white Europeans on Black Africans as significant because that might raise too many questions about Britain’s own Imperial militarism.

Aside: there are various companions to Thirkell’s Barsetshire novels around but like Thirkell’s fans they tend to be decidedly middlebrow so, for example, "The long winter of everyone’s discontent like a very unpleasant snake dragged its slow length along" is glossed for the Shakespeare reference but not the Alexander Pope from his Essay on Criticism: "That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along". Which causes me to speculate on when precisely the canon of English poetry was relegated from Normal for Shire Tories status to Only Read by Insufferable (Leftie) Intellectual Elitists.

Sixteen things I love or hate about this novel, with quotes.Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/534016.html and has comment count unavailable comments Please comment there using OpenID.
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc
This page was loaded 2 Jul 2015 at 9:45 am GMT