Time-travel is easy

– all you need is a knitting-pattern and Radio 4 Extra.  For lo!  Yesterday evening I spent time in the 1980’s listening to House of Cards.  I never watched that when it was on TV and it is very much of its time – I was struck by how far we’ve come (except that that sounds like progress) ie the machinations of the central character are standard stuff these days, seemingly in real life as well as in fiction.  I could bang on here about standards of behaviour in public life but that would be tedious, so I won’t: suffice it to say that I am working up to a Grand Unified Theory about how putting money first is destroying our society.  I blame Thatcher.

Ah!  That feels better – amazing how those three little words – I blame Thatcher – can take a weight off your chest.

Now, as to the knitting pattern, that is more complicated.  I wanted, as I told you, a roll-neck sweater and the pattern came yesterday (a pleasant surprise as I was thinking it was a rejection letter) BUT! unlike on the internet the pattern said nothing about using chunky wool.  So I have had to adapt it and knit a size 10 instead of a size – what I am.  I think it will probably be a disaster.

Chris has just emailed me to say he is on the beach in Spain at a place called Tossa.  ‘You tossa,’ I replied.

Today I shall be mostly… er, writing a new short story; it’s called ‘Identity Theft’.

Kirk out

A slight head-cold on both your houses

Listening to the Labour Party conference and thinking, What does anyone (oo!  I wrote ‘nayone’ first of all – interesting) – what does anyone stand for any more?  Thatcher may have been abominable but at least you knew what she stood for, likewise Michael Foot.  But since Blair politics have become bland and slippery; the parties have shifted ground so often it’s as though they’re ice-skating (and on very thin ice) – and the best Ed Milliband can do is to try to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ business.  Actually I thought it was quite a good speech, but when you’ve sold everything off basically there’s little governments can do about anything at all because it’s the markets that decide everything.  And they know this.

I had a dream last night in which I was saying something about the Labour party and a voice said, ‘How do you know that?’  I looked up to see that I was sitting in the pub with Michael Foot and another Labour PM who I can’t remember.  ‘What did Foot say about Ed Milliband?’ asked Mark.

‘I don’t know – it was a dream,’ I said.

‘I think dead people in dreams are important,’ he said.

Mark had a weird dream once about his dead grandfather.  I’ll tell you about it some time.


The good news is that Holly has a new bed!  Nerissa was freecycling one and we took the ends off and carried it here where I spent a very sweaty – and sweary – hour putting the bloody thing together again.  sounds like Humpty-Dumpty and I wish that like him, I’d been able to use the screws to do just what I wanted them to do.  But together it is and we wait to see whether Holly has slept better.  She is very pleased with it anyway.

So the old bed will now go to Ceri.

Today I shall be mostly… seeing Conrad and editing stories for a competition.

Kirk out

There is a tide in the affairs of laptops…

and the tide of this laptop has gone out – it has taken to going into a corner and having a sulk if you accidentally tap it in one particular place, whereupon you have to perform that complicated set of manoeuvres known to all electronic technicians as ‘turning it off and on again’.

As I write, the sky has turned from black to grey and it is now almost light.  We have ‘his’n’hers’ laptops this morning and Mark is busily tapping away on his.  Oh!  That reminds me – Holly produced an impressive-looking flower yesterday.  She is studying Art and Design, including graphics, and seems to be doing well at it.  In English she is doing a poem by Christina Rosetti – not one I know – and I was telling her that Rosetti had written the Christmas carol, ‘In the Bleak Mid-winter.’  She then began to sing it, to the tune of ‘Every Sperm is Sacred’…



(you have to listen to the chorus).  Took us a while to place the tune, but when we did… laugh!  Did we laugh?

Er, yes we did.

Here’s Holly’s picture:


Blimey!  That’s a long link.  Which reminds me… I’ve sent off for a knitting pattern.  Now, you wouldn’t think it would be a complicated thing to find a black roll-neck sweater these days, but apparently it is asking the impossible.  You can have scoop-neck sweaters or round-neck sweaters or long sweaters that are almost dresses, with or without pockets or embroidery or even – inexplicably – with short sleeves, but the one thing you can’t have is a polo neck.  The nearest thing is that floppy neck thing which goes down to your tits and won’t fit under a jacket and I can’t abide them.  So… I had a look on-line for a pattern, found one straight away, and then looked at wool.  Bloody hell!  Did you know the cheapest 50 gm ball costs £3?  Which means my sweater would cost £50 – and that’s before I even start to knit it.

Aha!  But in my bag I have lots of chunky blue wool.  So what’s to prevent me knitting a blue sweater and then dyeing it?

So that’s the plan, and I await the pattern with bated breath.

Mark was astonished to find patterns on-line for wedding dresses.  ‘I didn’t know you could make your own wedding dress!’ he exclaimed.

‘Duh,’ I replied.

And that’s it.  Another story rejected yesterday – I can’t even remember which one I sent them but it’s ‘not what they’re looking for at the moment.’  Daniel is not here, having slept over at Plaxy’s (he got the train by himself for the first time), and today I shall be mostly working on a couple of stories for the Fish competition.

Kirk out

Trying to think of a witty title…

meanwhile, here is some light music.



Recognise that?  Of course, it’s the Archers’ theme tune, Candlewick Green or whatever it’s called.  Barchester Towers.  Fawlty Chronicles.  The Chthonics of Narnia.  And now I’ve forgotten what chthonic means, but at 6.30 am!!! it’s not surprising.  Aaanyway, the big news of the day is: I’ve got back in touch with Danielle!

Danielle, if you didn’t know, is a friend of mine from many yonks ago: we first met at college (Isleworth Poly, as it was then – it’s probably called Tesco’s SuperTech now, or something) where we were both doing A-levels: she had been at Hammersmith College whereas I had only recently been freed from the Green School for Girls, which I know is still called the Green School though I think they may have a boy or two now.  Anyway, Danielle and I were friends for years and then somehow or other we lost touch after I got married and I don’t know what happened … and then yesterday I decided to look her up on Facebook.  Now normally when I do this I find a myriad of people, all with the same name, and most of whom have no profile pic and ‘only share their information with friends’.  ‘If you know so-and-so,’ the blurb says, ‘send them a message.’  Well, how am I supposed to tell if I know so-and-so or not, if so-and-so has no profile pic and no information?  But in this case, the first Danielle I looked at had a photo – and it had to be her but just to be sure I sent her a message – and lo! she had also been thinking about contacting me!  She is off to Barcelona now but I’m sure we will be in contact when she gets back.

Meanwhile, Bob….

Ah, the lost army of my youth!

Had a dream about being on the edge of a cliff and calling out to people to help me – I reckon I was lying on the edge of the bed.

Today I shall be mostly… getting Daniel off to Derby and wrestling with my novel

Kirk out

Do aliens get anti-racism training?

No, I kid you not – that was actually the question Mark asked me this morning.  Can I be bothered to deal with the whole plethora of improbability this throws up? I asked myself, and the answer was No.  (I’d probably have gone on an improbability drive, ha ha.)  But before I was thus so rudely interrupted in my Thought, I was teaching myself atavism: or rather, learning what atavistic thoughts and emotions still lurk in my closet.

Some of these are rather primitive, such as a gut reaction to anal sex which goes ‘Ugh!’; or an odd emotion whenever I imagine meeting the Queen, both of which are quite disturbing since I consider homophobia to be wrong and I’m not a royalist.  But still, there they are, along with other assumptions about what women can – and mostly, can’t – do.  I’m not finding much in my closet in the way of racism, though there may be a somewhat patronising desire to pat our woolly-haired brothers and sisters on the head.

Oh dear.  And I only went in there to look for Narnia.

Apparently the neutrinos are now thought to have taken a short-cut; so they’re not really faster than light.  Well, that’s a relief.  I’m sure we can all sleep easier in our beds knowing that a faster-than-light neutrino is not about to burst in on us.

I am considering rewriting ‘Waiting for Theo’ as a play; I will call it ‘Life with Leon’.  The 6/30 slot on Radio 4 being what it is, I don’t see much hope of getting a new sitcom on, since they’ve all but abandoned it in favour of weird amorphous thingies like ‘Arthur Smith’s Balham Bash’ – and no-one, including Arthur Smith, seems to know what that is.

Spent yesterday watching videos as I was feeling a tad under the weather (which, apparently, is going to turn Unseasonably Warm by the end of the week) including ‘Calendar Girls’, an excellent film which makes rather seedy women like me who are staring into the abyss of old-age and sometimes forgetting to put our teeth in, feel good about ourselves.

‘I think we’re going to need considerably bigger buns.’


Mark’s comment: ‘breasts are smaller than they seem to be.’  So there we are.

Happy Monday

Kirk out

PS  ‘Mm – anal sex and the Queen – you don’t often get those together in a sentence’, observes Mark.

My Thought has gone

Feeling a bit cold-y this morning; slept well but still very tired.  Did not manage ‘Tinker, Tailor’ yesterday as we were deciding on Strengths and Experiences (while I’m capitalising stuff that reminds me that someone has written a sequel to the Winnie-the-Pooh books.  I’m not sure what I think about fan fiction, especially when it’s published: on the one hand, there may be scope for a third Pooh book but on the other hand, isn’t it a cynical ploy to make money from someone else’s work?  And why can’t that person do something original instead?)  Fan fiction as a kind of tribute, in the same way as tribute bands work, is another thing altogether, I think.

The Thought that I had this morning has gone – and now I don’t know where to find it.  Ah well… good day yesterday at Tomatoes followed by chopping wood for the fire and then to Peter’s where we watched Caroline Quentin in India – very nostalgic for me.  Today I shall be mostly…

trying to get out of bed.

Kirk out

Here’s today’s joke:

The barman says, ‘We don’t allow faster-than-light neutrinos in here.’

A neutrino walks into a bar.

Lol.  This is of course a reference to yesterday’s (or perhaps tomorrow’s) story from CERN about particles which seem to have moved faster than light.  Unlike me: this morning I am moving considerably slower than any particles known to physics.

Went to Market Harborough yesterday (I know another joke about that) to see Mary and John and sat behind some rugby fans on the way back: their table was covered with bottles and as we watched, one of them took the top off another one with his teeth, upended the bottle and drank it down in one go.

Oh, all right, he used a bottle-opener – but the rest is true.  Daniel and I watched in astonishment.

Mary and John are off in November to Mexico where, having got the boat up to scratch, they will be sailing across the Gulf of Mexico (about 85 miles, apparently) and then perhaps down the coast.  We had some talk about harbours including, interestingly, Rye Harbour, which it seems can only be entered during a 2-hr period and which John once had to negotiate at midnight.  Life from a sailor’s point of view is very interesting and quite different from a landlubber’s like mine.

My elderberry wine is quite drinkable – I’m supposed to leave it till next year but what the hell.  When you have wine in the airing-cupboard (you don’t need an airing-cupboard when you’ve got Jesus, as Mark so accurately observed) the stuff in the shops begins to look rather expensive: not that it didn’t already, since that brand I really used to like at £4 a bottle is now nearly double that.

Tomatoes this morning, then Peter’s for yoga.  We are not going to see ‘Tinker, Tailor’ till next weekend.

Oh, that joke.  I’m sure I’ve told you before and it may be apocryphal, but here goes:

An old lady walks into a bar – sorry, a bus station – and asks for the coach to Margate Harbour.  The bloke points her towards the bus stopping at Market Harborough.  She gets off and asks, ‘Where are all the ships?’

That was one of Bob’s.

Bob?  Bob?

People just disappear…

Kirk out

Quoth the dialogue box: ‘Nevermore’

Mark said this morning that the little thingy being broken off the internet cable was like Edgar Allen Poe.

‘Why?’ I said.

‘It’s the peculiar horror,‘ he explained.

So now we know.  American spelling may be more logical but in general I don’t like it, especially the tendency to chop the ends of words such as ‘dialogue’, ‘analogue’ and so on – they look utterly truncated to me.  Our spelling is a nightmare but it is also a history lesson – the history of our language; where it came from, how it got here and what bits it picked up on the way: in fact often, the more you know about the spelling, the more you can understand about the meaning.  Plus, these days what with spell-checkers, there’s no need to get your nike’s in a twist.


Daniel pointed out that in a scene from ‘A Knight’s Tale’, the armourer’s mark is the same as the Nike logo.  I’ll see if I can find a link.  Nope – it’s not a particularly significant part of the film but if you watch it, look out for that bit where she shows him her ‘mark’.

My Mark (LOL) is planning to show Daniel films including ‘Last Year in Marienbad’, ‘Drowning by Numbers’ and some Derek Jarman stuff.  He is also going to be doing Maths with Daniel and Alex and getting paid! (though not by Daniel).

‘Ave Caesar!  We who are about to die salute you (and by the way, look at the blade on this sword!  Get your sword from Picus Maximus, third on the left in the market-place by the statue of Augustus.  Not the recent statue, the older one…’)  According to Mark, the Romans had product placement too: gladiators who were morituri, as they salutant Caesar, would put in an aside about their sword-maker and how wonderful he was.  But they didn’t put this in the films because they thought it wasn’t realistic.

I’m off to Market Harborough today though whether Daniel will be coming with me is anyone’s guess, as I see from Facebook that he was still up at 1.30 am.  Argggghhhhh!  I don’t know what I’m going to do with him!

And now you know what I’m doing today.

Kirk out

Mind you, nothing would surprise me about those Romans.

RIP Troy Davis

An almost certainly innocent man was executed today in the state of Georgia, USA: 7 out of the 9 witnesses had retracted their testimony.  The man had been in prison for 22 years.  Death row is an abomination and should be stopped.  It is against all notion of human rights.  The death penalty is a travesty of what it claims to uphold; ie that murder is wrong: it’s like the mother I once saw in a shopping centre slapping her child and saying ‘Don’t! – hit! – people!’  Only much worse.  Once you’ve executed someone you can’t bring them back and say sorry.

In my teens I remember reading ’10, Rillington Place’; the story of Evans and Christie, an infamous miscarriage of justice here whose uncovering led in no small measure to the abolition of the death penalty.  I think the book is by Ludovic Kennedy.  Hang on…  yes, here’s the info:


If someone is wrongfully imprisoned they can be released and pardoned – but if you execute them there’s no way back – and that is why I’m against the death penalty; because it puts the state in the position of God.

Let’s have a short silence for Troy Davis:







Watching ”I Clavdivs’ last night and thinking about how much I like Robert Graves.  He had a very unorthodox life and was far ahead of his time: way before the ‘sixties he lived with a woman and they had four children together; he was also very progressive in the way he wrote about women (see ‘I Clavdivs’, the book in particular, though the BBC adaptation is quite close to it:


In a sense, he’s like Lawrence, though Lawrence later recanted some of his earlier feminism.  Perhaps it was all the plates Frieda threw at him, though I gather he threw a fair few himself.

Ugh!  Woke up at 4, couldn’t get back to sleep.  It’s now 6.40 and I’m drinking strong tea.  Today I shall be mostly… unblocking the toilet and eating spinach.  Though not necessarily in that order.

Kirk out

Quoi he! Et toute cette sorte de chose, quoi?

(Meaning: ‘What ho! And all that sort of thing, what?)  I’m feeling very Linguistic this morning and I have discovered that there exists a dialect peculiar (very peculiar) to Dunkirk which is very like the Brit-speak in ‘Asterix’:  ‘Dunkerquois, il vient toujours avec!’, as the local paper of that region says.  Or, as Mark says, ‘Other parts of France have vineyards – they have vegetable oil factories.’

‘They’ve got an oil-factory nerve,’ I quip.  He groans.

As I said, I’m feeling very Linguistic; wanting to Do Things With Words and stuff.  Not that that’s unusual for me but today it’s particularly Strong and Pronounced.  Perhaps because yesterday I was feeling very depressed.  Here’s a poem I’m working on:

Lot’s Wife

Girled and Girdled

given ‘d’

hurled and hurdled




This is not particularly about Lot’s wife – who, as you will recall, looked round when the Israelites were leaving Egypt and was turned into a pillar of salt (I’ve got another poem about that which I will show you in a mo) – it’s more about the traditional biblical lot (ho ho) of women and what you were supposed to do when growing up.  I know, I know – things are all different now, so why am I banging on about it?  I don’t know – these poems just come to me and I put them down.  I guess it’s because all this stuff was going on when I was growing up and I didn’t discover feminism till I was twenty.

Anyway, here’s my poem about Lot’s wife:

Women never lorded

look round below the salt

your name is not recorded

– but everything’s your fault


So there we are.

Kerque dehors