2007 — 31 Mar: what's up, Mac?

This is, or should be, the weekend we get one of our rare opportunities to play Uncle and Aunt to niece #1 from NZ — the one who popped into the world two days after said Uncle and Aunt got spliced. Not to mention accommodating Big Bro. What a lot of stuff has to be moved around, or even just dusted! Must say I'm curious what he will make of the iMac and its digital photography capability. Perhaps I'll be able to get him to switch?

Watched (and enjoyed!) "Stormbreaker" last night — another Fopp bargain. Mind you, "Spellbound" (not the 1945 Alfred Hitchcock with the Dali dream sequence) clocked in at £3 so was even better value. Followed by the "US vs John Lennon" documentary (plus a "just in case it's as bad as they say" capture of the re-remake of "The cat and the canary" with Honor Blackman). So no bed until somewhat after 01:45 this morning.

Today's mystery object

In thumbnail form...

Small mystery

And if you need a bigger clue.

Gaol? Jail?

In 1991, we locked up around 40,000 miscreants1 in the UK. Today, "with crime and crime rates falling" it seems we have just locked up 300 or so above 80,000. Mind you, we still don't seem to know quite how many have either walked out of, or been (inaccurately) released from, these government hotels and disappeared into the general population. Solution? Split the Home Office into two, forming (I suspect) a nascent UK Department of Homeland Security. Funny world, but getting steadily unfunnier.

Had we but World enough, and Time...

Guess who picked up a remaindered copy of "The Complete Poems" by Andrew Marvell, still shrink-wrapped, for £1.99 just a few minutes ago? And, having been intrigued to see books by Ayn Rand remain so stubbornly at the top of various "best-ever" charts (despite never having read, or even wishing to read, the guff2 she produced) I also grabbed the DVD of the 1998 film The passion of Ayn Rand, not least because it stars Helen Mirren and Peter Fonda.

Another radio convert

Journalist Andrew Billen (a staff writer on The Times — somebody has to do it) has begun life anew, not as "a trainer of performing elephants," but with the "Radio" column in the New Statesman (one of several magazines I just cannot yet persuade myself to give up despite my pensioner's state of permanent penury). He has got off to a cracking start this week by singing the praises of the readings, by family Thompson members, of stories from The Magic Roundabout. As he puts it: "Radios 3 and 4, not to mention Oneword, are full of cerebral one-off features or week-long series... The madness is that no one I know listens to radio in this way." I do! <Smile>

Not that I get paid a commission, but I did find another tear-inducing item in this week's magazine. It was a quotation itself contained within an article called "Purely cosmetic?" by Annalisa Barbieri. It's an extract from the diary of a soldier who was among the first to liberate Bergen-Belsen in 1945. The source is in the Imperial War Museum:

I can give no adequate description of the Horror Camp in which my men and myself were to spend the next month of our lives... It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted. We were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things and I don't know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did it. It was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick... At last someone had done something to make them individuals again; they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.

Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin

Day 148  


1  Figures are silent on the number of catamites.
2  Uninformed opinion alert.