I Am Decorated

It’s a very bad time of year to be decorating, what with snow on the ground and ice in the wind, so call me eccentric but I’m deep into the bedroom. The reason for this unseasonable activity is that since the arrival of a sofa Actually Big Enough to Sleep On!!! I am now able to paint a room which has been annoying me with its tawdry muckiness for years. I’ve already tackled the mould and one wall is cupboards which I’m not going to touch so it’s basically three walls and a ceiling. I’ve actually made a start on the ceiling and made a right pig’s ear of it because I can’t see what the hell I’m doing. So I’ll just have to spend a few more hours flailing wildly around with the roller and hope for the best.

And here’s the lovely sofa that made it all possible.

Kirk out


I don’t watch a lot of quiz programmes on TV but I do still enjoy University Challenge and Mastermind, hence Monday night is quiz night.

I always watched Mastermind when I was younger and rightly or wrongly assumed that the contestants were there to display and test the knowledge that they had gained in some particular field. Of course they would have brushed up on the subject before coming on the programme, but essentially it was about the knowledge that they had gained in the course of their lives.

Not so nowadays. Last week I was stunned to see one of our neighbours on the programme. ‘Look!’ I said excitedly. ‘It’s that woman from down the road!’ Turned out it wasn’t as she lived in Manchester and when I thought about it I realised that her hair was different too. So why did she look so familiar? Eventually I worked it out: she’d been on Mastermind before, and probably other programmes as well. Last year’s winner had not only been a contestant in previous years but had also appeared on other quiz shows. People are in quiz leagues and clubs: they go quizzing up and down the country. It’s almost a profession.

The only quiz that does seem to be a genuine test of knowledge is University Challenge.

Kirk out

The Janet and John Bit

I’ve been rereading the Narnia books lately- they help me to sleep (in a good way) and I’ve been thinking that C S Lewis doesn’t get enough credit. He gets a lot of flak for misogyny and rightly so in many ways: there’s often a hag or an evil witch trying to destroy Narnia, the head of Estate and Jill’s dysfunctional school is “by the way, a woman” and don’t even get me started on the problem of Susan, the poor young woman who at the end of the series loses her entire family and is excluded from Narnia just for the crime of being a bit trivial.

And yet. Whereas many, if not most children’s adventure books of that time were written for boys and if they featured girls at all showed them in a very passive role, girls take an active and almost equal part in the Narnia adventures. Not only that, they are often wiser than the boys: in both The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe he subverts traditional theology by making boys the villain of the piece. In TMN it’s Diggory who brings the witch into Narnia and thereby becomes the agent of original sin, and in LWW it’s Edmund who betrays his siblings to the witch.

Compare and contrast with the Ladybird books I grew up with. ‘Look, Janet, look! I can climb a tree!’ And so on. I happen to have ended up in the home of Ladybird books, and in recent years some ‘book benches’ have been made to commemorate their centenary. These crop up in all sorts of places and are surreptitiously moved during the night.

I think I blogged about these at some point but I can’t find it.

Kirk out

Why Oh Why Do I Do It?

You know how it is. We all have these bad habits, things we wish we didn’t do but somehow when it comes to it we do them anyway. A voice inside says, You know you’re going to regret this, but another voice says Aw, go on, how bad can it be? So you do the thing.

I’ve had one of those days today. A blog post over on Beetleypete was talking about the number of spam messages it received: 300 a day. Yikes! Having read it I headed back here to check how many there were in my spam folder. None! That was surprising: I didn’t know whether to be pleased or insulted that no spammers had thought it worth their while to contact me. Incidentally I get plenty on my email, the latest of which tried to persuade me that my LinkedIn account was in danger of being closed down unless I etc etc etc. Use my username then! Don’t just call me ‘dear LinkedIn user!’ Anyway, having been deprived of the tiny little frisson of checking out what idiotic messages were in my spam folder, I turned to the trash and immediately wished I hadn’t as lots of contributions from my last troll were still lurking in there.

As I say, it’s been one of those days: this morning I put a couple of items on freecycle and instead of waiting a while and then selecting, I replied to the first one who could be bothered to write a proper email (ie instead of can I have pls). Alas! Though this person said they could collect early afternoon I haven’t heard a dicky bird from them since.

On the plus side I went to the Outwoods today, which was lovely.

Kirk out

Paying Tribute

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched this particular webcam. I don’t like watching webcams in general: the ones overlooking an anonymous mass of people are ok but more intimate ones give me an uncomfortable feeling of voyeurism. I also worry about the amount of surveillance we are subjected to in our everyday lives; if I so much as walk 500 yards to the shops I may be caught on as many as half a dozen cameras. I don’t like it. (Mind you, when I’m watching one of those true crime stories and they lose the suspect I bang the table and ask, why don’t they have CCTV in that remote field? But that’s another story.)

Be that as it may, I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the feed from the camera overlooking Abbey Road – yes, the zebra crossing on the front of the Beatles album. It’s quite shocking. You might expect the odd group of people to reenact the album cover but in fact people do so roughly every 2-3 minutes. Since this involves stopping on the crossing for someone to take a picture – for without a picture the whole thing is worthless – it must be infuriating for the locals.

We seem to live in an age of tributes and re-enactments, where people gain some extra value or kudos for performing a famous act or reproducing someone else’s songs and there’s barely a famous band that doesn’t have a slew of tribute acts. Why? What do people get out of reproducing a spontaneous photo of four men crossing the road half a century ago? Have we lost the power to be spontaneously creative?

I think we should be told.

Kirk out


The car is safely back home now after a change of sensor. I was most impressed by the garage; they not only fixed the problem, they took it for a drive to make sure it was fixed and when I went along to pay, showed me the old sensor and explained how it worked. I’m dead impressed; I think I’ll go there again.

The fair is on in Loughborough this week. It’s a traditional set up which has been coming every November for more than 100 years, and it takes over the entire town centre: as we sad old people take to our beds we can hear its music thumping around our feet; it ought to be annoying but I find it oddly reassuring that while the climate changes and politicians mumble, Loughborough fair goes on.

Kirk out


A weird thing happened to yesterday’s post. I’d copied and pasted it, added a bit of an intro, hit publish and then viewed it for editing. As I’m writing on my phone at the moment I nake tols of nistakes, as the woman trying to use sign language said in Four Weddings and a Funeral. But the post wasn’t there. The title, There are No Words, sat above an expanse of white screen. I thought that was utterly appropriate, both for the anniversary of Cohens death and for Remembrance day. So I let it stand, except that when I looked later the post was there after all. So never mind. But I quite liked the silent dignity of a post without words.

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that earlier I missed the apostrophe off Cohens. This was not a nistake. No! For I have decided, along with an English tutor at my college, that we should abolish the apostrophe. That’s right! Get rid of it! We don’t need it!

Seriously, what purpose does the apostrophe serve? It shows possession and missing letters but both of these things are obvious without sticking a single inverted comma between letters. And they are so often used wrongly that we’d be better off without them.

So there.

Kirk out

Where Was I?

It’s been a while, people, though I have the partial excuse that I’ve been in Wales for a bit: more on that story later. What have I been up to? Well, decorating mostly. Mould features heavily in this scenario as do saucepans, peeling wallpaper and over-enthusiastic masking tape. But you don’t need all the gory details. I’m basically decorating this house an inch at a time as and when I have the time and energy. There ought to be some way of expressing this in an equation, something like e+t=d, possibly. Anyway, in the midst of all this I went off to Wales for a much-needed recharging of batteries. It was great, if cold: I’d only taken one warm jumper and in Hay I was so cold I had to buy a fleece from a charity shop. But Hay is a delight, loads of excellent bookshops (I bought a biography of Proust) caf├ęs (a delicious pot of tea and some butternut squash soup) and market stalls (a bottle of wild blackberry stout.)

On other days I went for a walk, had lunch with a friend and visited Jeeves and Bertie, the alpacas.

On the down side the car started misbehaving. First the speedo would drop to zero and then occasionally the engine would cut out. I drove back very gingerly avoiding motorways and the car is now in the garage.

On the up side again, my rash has almost cleared up and I have a lot more energy. So that’s all good.

Kirk out