2008 — 28 June: Saturday

Thirty years ago, Christmas at the in-laws over in Meisenheim tended to be a slightly more formal affair than here, involving a certain amount of dressing for dinner, for example. Tonight's picture shows Christa in a corner of the vast Meisenheim living room, relaxing a little before the meal began...

Christa in the Meisenheim living room, Christmas 1977

Yesterday evening was most pleasurably spent browsing the lovely material in the Dijkstra archive. And this just in: Christa would have been vastly pleased by the news she's just received by email. Lidl has been named by "Which?" magazine as "best value for money retailer, 2008". Somehow I don't have the heart to unsubscribe to her various online newsletters, not that I ever expect to use the services of Air Berlin (for example). Oh well, g'night, at 00:01 and get well soon, son! (He has a, hopefully mild, respiratory infection.)

Round Tuit... dept.

I'm a great believer in the merits of procrastination. I've just (10:15) cancelled my (our) long-running subscription to New Stateman magazine even though I don't think I've read a copy cover-to-cover since shortly before Christa died. At one point, I thought the best thing in it was the diary column by Sean French, but Christa regarded it as essential, and well up to the standards of the more costly Der Spiegel. I shall keep up Private Eye, however, for the regular cardio-vascular workout that gives me as I read various outrageous items about our lords and masters, elected or otherwise. Nor do I regret giving up the Guardian when you can read fine stuff like this on its website:

The past few years have thrown up dozens of instances which made one wince to be a citizen of this septic isle, but a personal low came with the discovery that 500,000 bins had been fitted with electronic tracking devices. Transponders in bins ... Could any morning news item be more designed to force one back against the pillows, too embarrassed about one's country to start the day?

Marina Hyde in The Guardian

What do you suppose links "our late-running trains, our denuded church roofs, our missing manhole covers" and China? There's an answer, of sorts, here.


Books about humour are rarely funny (I offer Gershon Legman as an example) but some of the jokes they contain are:

A royal personage was making a tour through his provinces and noticed a man in the crowd who bore a striking resemblance to his own exalted person. He beckoned to him and asked: "Was your mother at one time in service in the Palace?" "No, your Highness," was the reply, "but my father was."

Mary Beard, reviewing "Stop Me If You've Heard This" by Jim Holt in The New York Review of Books

For any trivia fans, Ms Beard assures me that "the first surviving version of this is to be found among a small collection of the jokes of the first emperor Augustus, in a chapter of Macrobius' Saturnalia."

Just fed a cup of coffee to Roger and sent him on his way. Now it's definitely time (12:48) for a spot of lunch.

More things in heaven and earth, Horatio... dept.

This gorgeous hunk of real estate (offered for sale on eBay, apparently) is the M81 galaxy just barely visible within the "Great Bear" constellation. It's a mere 11.6 million light years away (our second nearest neighbouring spiral galaxy) and has a black hole of 70 million solar masses at its centre. (Allegedly!)


(Somewhat) closer to home, I noted a few years ago that steel salvaged from the German fleet scuttled at Scapa Flow in June, 1919 became one of the few sources of uncontaminated steel needed to shield delicate instruments that measure radiation, so bits of the Kaiser's navy are now (courtesy of NASA) on the moon, or even further afield. Today, I've found a related item regarding the detection of Russian art forgeries post-1945. Small (and dishonest) world.

Time to hit the foody shops.

Tea for one... dept.

It's 18:26 (somehow) and I shall start rustling up something for the inner man soon. Weather's been very pleasant so far; hope it stays like this tomorrow as we're planning a walk in the vicinity of Exbury and Lepe (I was last in the latter with Christa, Big Bro and niece #1 in April last year). 454 days ago — Good God!

Big Bro, Michelle, and Christa in Lepe country park, April 2007

This Time business is positively mystical.

Thank you, Bob Harris, for kicking off your Radio 2 show with "Wipe Out" by the Surfaris — in the American charts in June 1963. The track that convinced me I'd never be a drummer before I ever knew there were other targets to aspire to! It's only 23:10 but the eyelids are showing signs of converging. And I must be up early tomorrow to ensure the crockpot is freshly loaded before heading down for the coast with a packed lunch.