2008 — 18 Mar: Tuesday frost

It's 00:49 or so. The end of quite a long day, somehow. So, another placeholder. Oddly, I learned tonight (last night, I suppose, now) that the entire Alan Parsons back catalogue is being re-issued. But I've been assiduously collecting and listening to his music since the 1976 album1 Tales of mystery and imagination... What's everybody else's excuse?

Oh well. G'night.

Heisenberg re-doubled

I see, looking back, not only that it is once again birthday time downunder (Happy birthday, Lis) but that Heisenberg continues to hold sway over my sadly-reduced little dominion these days. Before I investigate further it's time to start stuffing the crockpot. The basic ingredient this time is going to be dead pig. 10:15 is on the edge of cutting it fine for the evening, perhaps. I need a system!

OK, Monsieur Crock le Pot is stuffed and simmering gently. (Must remember to get me some of that "pork stock" that Mike discovered recently; I made do with vegetable this time.) Of course, having spent the last 30 minutes or so washing, chopping and assembling the stuff, I now feel most unhungry regarding breakfast. Another cuppa should set me straight. I shall nip out and see if anything appetising strikes me. I have an ERNIE to pay in (and two more for Christa that I shall have to return on the heels of the batch I sent back a week ago). There was no trace of frost by the time I re-surfaced this morning. But it's thoroughly cloudy with something bright trying to break through.

Whew! I was just looking back to see exactly when I'd contacted Mr ERNIE and was thus prompted to nip downstairs and add the missing magic ingredient before it's too late: the chopped tomatoes, garlic and olive oil mixture that transforms more or less everything it touches into delicious edibility. "No self control" (Laura Branigan) is playing as I type. Wonderful track2 and a sad loss to music.

The old lies are the best... dept.

I've mentioned before that I like the way philosopher AC Grayling expresses himself:

In the current debate about the erosion of civil liberties, a stock claim aimed at dampening the ardour of their defenders is that "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear"... The assumption behind the "if you have nothing to hide" claim is that the authorities will always be benign, will always reliably identify and interfere with genuinely bad people only, will never find themselves engaging in "mission creep" with more and more uses to put their new powers and capabilities to, will not redefine crimes, and even various behaviours or views now regarded as acceptable, to extend the range of things for which people can be placed under suspicion — and so considerably on... It is all or some of naive, lazy and irresponsible not to be maximally vigilant regarding civil liberties and human rights, because it is a datum that the liberties of individuals are inconvenient for all states and their security services...

AC Grayling, in The Guardian

As for the "blissful brain" — now there's a happy thought! Is it just me, or does "The electrical activity in the brain recorded by EEG suggests that a relaxed state is hard to come by when you're trying too hard" strike you as, as Alf Garnett might have put it, "bleedin' obvious!"?

Vox populi revisited... dept.

This just in: "How any modern government can exclude mortgage costs when calculating inflation is beyond me. It is the single biggest issue in most peoples' lives, yet now it seems they are more concerned about the cost of Muffins and Smoothies, as these are the latest items to be added to the 'average' consumer's shopping basket. The economy is built on a lie, that lie is current house price inflation." Source.

Couldn't really agree more.

Rising damp

Gosh. It's 14:28 and I'm back from a couple of commercial transactions to a very pleasing aroma from the crockpot. Sadly, I shall have to stave off the pangs with a batch of prawns and a side salad, both of which are hovering near their "best before" dates, and a few chunks of fresh pineapple for "pud". The concept of "responsibly farmed" prawns is a new one:

Indonesian prawns

I treated myself to a jar of quince jelly — celebrating the ERNIE. Christa and I both like quince; I believe her parents actually had a quince tree in their garden in Meisenheim in earlier days. And Mrs Alliance caught my eye while I was jousting with the automated tea-maker / cheque paying in machine. "Have you got a couple of minutes?" Guess what? She wants to sell me a new, improved higher-interest ISA thingy, too, though she says (as an existing customer) I have to buy another accompanying £5,000 "product" (and not even from them) before she'll do this, and (if you please) I only have until tomorrow to decide. That's going to make the decision somewhat easier, I suspect. I took away a photocopy of this "incredibly popular" offering as that seemed the most expedient way to get out of the clip joint. I would ask "Do I look gullible?" but I might not like the answer.

R.I.P. Anthony Minghella and Arthur C Clarke

What a pity. Minghella was only 54, too. Though did The English patient really merit nine Oscars? As for Clarke (age 90) the film Kubrick made out of his short story "The Sentinel" was (at the time) and remains to this day utterly amazing.

Ever onward

Just been hosting Roger and Eileen to a mug of tea — with a saucer (each) I hasten to add. The crockpot (and its simmering contents) was duly admired. I'm now (16:58) looking at a mostly blue sky outside the study, though it still seems pretty cold out there. Where the heck is the day going? It's getting away from me, it seems. Time to catch up on the dishes and clear the decks for the next batch of culinary merry-making. Hah! Chris Evans has just made me splutter with laughter at his suggestion that newly-divorced Heather Mills should now marry the owner of Harrods and then divorce him: "What a court case that would make!"

It's 20:05, and I've just been listening, entranced, to an hour3 of Noël Coward courtesy of Desmond Carrington "at home in Perthshire" on BBC Radio 2. I think I would defy anyone to be able to contest the Master's fantastic talent. The last book Christa was reading in hospital before she became too ill to continue with it was his beautifully-written Autobiography — I'm keeping her bookmark in place. She'd got to within 20 pages of the end of Present Indicative.

A series of recent emails remind me that some items will be en route before too much longer:

Some of these are pretty venerable, as you can see. The last two, of course, are based (respectively) on "Make room! Make room!" by Harry Harrison, and "I am Legend" by Richard Matheson. I don't like Charlton Heston's real life stance on gun (lack of) control, but I enjoyed his 1979 journal "The actor's life" even though it's long since been culled from my shelves. There's an amusing section in Gore Vidal's Palimpsest, by the way, about some of the shenanigans with Heston while making Ben-Hur. It's always fascinating to see alternative opinions and memories of the same events...



1  I preferred the original vinyl to the initial 1987 CD issue of that first album, too. As with one of the Roxy Music albums ("Manifesto"), some inane producer (or recording engineer) decided in each case to "improve" on the original with the CD. Unsuccessfully, in my opinion, in both cases.
2  Even though the lyrics contain a grammatical error I was also consistently guilty of making until I was gently corrected by Carol many years ago: "I haven't got the will to try and fight" illustrates it.
3  During the show, I can also report that the pork crockpot contents were very tasty, too. And there's still rather a lot left; in fact, I estimate another two meals.