2007 — 5 May: Cat Stevens by another name...

Caught most of the BBC4 programme last night wherein Alan Yentob loosely "interviewed" Yusuf Islam. Very interesting, so I listened upstairs to the sound of the "session/concert" that followed. This was instead of resuming my attempts to find much (indeed, anything) to laugh about in Channel 4's fourth series of "Peep Show". I'm so uncool!

Today we intend to start the process of turning our garden pond into more of a boggy patch for frogs etc than a resthome for fish. Since the demise of the latest pump hose connector, the water (if that's what it is) is now almost as green and cloudy as it's ever been, so the little blighters are barely visible at the best of times (ie, when we feed them) let alone at any other time. She Who Must Be Adored has, it seems, ordered a whole pallet load (actually, a tonne) of pea-shingle for delivery today, and I have nightmare visions of shifting this using the recently assembled Tri-Truk. Oh, my aching back.

Christa in her element

A close-up of Christa in her element! Lest you wonder, the fish are now safely rehoused in our neighbour's pond, though some may yet be en route to a school's pond. And the pumping exercise flushed out a frog, too. We're keeping him!

Corrected correction department

I foresee a correction in the Guardian's future. On 30th April they carried a report on the closing of a loophole for non-frozen gametes supplied via the Interweb thingy. (And delivered via turkey baster, unless I miss my guess.) (Use of) fresh sperm is currently exempt from the rule granting children the right to obtain the identity of their genetic father. Correction #1 (made today) concerns the homophone in the sentence: "If the new regulations fail, draft legislation will give MPs a second chance1 to reign in internet fresh sperm companies." Correction #2 will be when they get around to correcting the date of original publication.

By the way, the going rate for sperm bank depositors is £50 for "expenses". I wonder if it's getting harder to make a living? (One of my readers has suggested such unskilled labour is making money "hand over fist".)

It's a dead giveaway... department

No, not the fish. It seems the Guardian has a books blog. (I confess I've not yet peeked.) A Tania Kindersley asks: "Judging character from someone's reading habits is a favourite game in the media. But how much can we really deduce from a collection of books?" Good question. As a kid, I invariably headed for the bookshelves in houses we visited (and/or I was dragged to). I still do, though I tend to ask permission first these days.

I've not read Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis. However, I do now know that on 5 May 1926 he turned down the Pulitzer prize for it. His letter to the prize committee seems initially laudably high-minded:

Between the Pulitzer prizes, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and its training school, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, amateur boards of censorship, and the inquisition of earnest literary ladies, every compulsion is put on writers to become safe, polite, obedient, and sterile. In protest, I declined election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters some years ago, and now I must decline the Pulitzer prize. I invite other writers to consider the fact that by accepting the prizes and approval of these vague institutions we are admitting their authority, publicly confirming them as the final judges of literary excellence, and I inquire whether any prize is worth that subservience.

Sinclair Lewis (as revealed in The Guardian)

The only thing is, at about the same time he wrote to his publisher: "Any thoughts on pulling wires for Arrowsmith for Nobel prize?" He got it (and accepted it) in 1930.

Day 183  


1  Come again? It's reining in men!