2008 — 13 August: Wednesday

It's just gone midnight and I've been enjoying (rather to my surprise) the new show "Maestro". I caught it on the BBC HD simulcast (and it's repeated this Thursday on BBC4 if you missed it). I never thought orchestral conducting would be easy to do well, and it certainly demonstrated that. I was alternately laughing and cringing; exercising a set of facial muscles that needed it. Magic.

So, to tonight's picture:

Christa in Cornwall, 1975

Again, a shot taken during that first wonderful holiday in Cornwall in 1975. How we both loved the seaside!

I was quite taken aback to see in the server logs a five-fold increase in the number of hits on this site on Monday, and have no way of accounting for it. Mind you, the heaviest hitters are still the three main search engines, Google, Yahoo, and MSN — and without me doing anything to encourage them (indeed my robots.txt file is precisely designed to deflect them from some of my nefarious little web). Ho hum. G'night at 00:19 or so.

A new day

Off to a poor start by the need to download and install 19.8MB of Microsoft patches on each of three systems1 before I can turn my full attention to a nice piece about Saki by Christopher Hitchens, reviewing a new book "The unbearable Saki" by Sandie Byrne...

If you want to incubate an author who will show lifelong sympathy for children and animals, it seems best to sequester him at an early age and then subject him to a long regime of domestic torture... Abandoned to the care of cold and neurotic aunts in England while his father performed colonial duties in India, he and his siblings had to learn how to do without affection, and how to resist and outpoint adult callousness and stupidity. But without those terrible women — and the villains in Saki's gem-like tales are almost always female — we might not have had the most-fearsome aunts in fiction, outdoing even Wodehouse's Aunt Agatha or Wilde's Lady Bracknell.

Christopher Hitchens in The Atlantic

"Feral ephebes", heh? Time (09:25) for the breakfast that cheers. And to keep an eye on the sun's battle with rather dark clouds.


The first hammer blows were struck by a Parcel Post chap:

Follies and Lodge

As I mentioned here, Christa and I both very much enjoyed the two seasons of "Rock Follies". They're finally available on DVD. As for the new David Lodge... I took his Changing Places with me to try down in Cornwall in 1975, and have enjoyed all the fiction he's produced, both before and since that title. I always found him an easier read than Malcolm Bradbury, somehow.

Love, lust... is that cricket?

The second, gentler, rapping was a "normal" Mr Postie:

Love, Lust, and Cricket

The TV version of Love on a branch line dates back to 1994, but was in turn based on John Hadfield's lovely novel. My copy seems to have wandered; I suspect it will either be somewhere on Christa's shelves or — more ominously — on walkabout with somebody I've forgotten! Lust Caution is the new Ang Lee. As for the cricketing comedy, I missed its transmission in 1994, but spotted the fact that it was a belated spin-off (a cricketing term?) from a 1982 play with some of my favourite thespians.

Happy birthday, fridge-freezer!

Christa had an effective birthday-tracking system that governed the sending out of numerous cards and gifts over many years. I'd be surprised, though, if even she knew our latest fridge-freezer is now four years old. But Bosch (whose ironic tag line is "invented for life") have obviously kept track, and have now suggested she insure it with the usual Domestic and General crowd. I can't even remember who we bought it from. And I suppose that if I note it's working fine it will promptly go bang. (That, at least, was a theory espoused by Iris on our walk yesterday.)

Grey rain clouds are still scudding past, and dropping the wet stuff on us from time to time. I think I shall adjourn for a spot of lunch and listen, if I can stomach it, to the one o'clock news.

And now, with some signs of slightly brighter weather, I shall hit my usual supplier to see if Big Bro's aviation rag is out yet. Ciao for now, at 15:18. Sorry, Bro. I'm back from town, but there's still no sign of the September issue. Might the editor be on hols, do you think? However, I confess I didn't come home empty-handed. I've been waiting for the new Clive James to appear in paperback. And (at a mere £2-99 and still shrink-wrapped) I wasn't going to miss the Martin Leman. Plus, at least, the September issue of The Word is out, with yet another cover-mounted CD. I shall try the new Ry Cooder track, as I've seen some disappointing reviews of his new album. As for the continuing mystery of the passage of Time, how can it be 31 years since the excellent David Byrne / Brian Eno collaboration My life in the bush of ghosts?


I'm pleased to report several excellent tracks on the free CD, plus who's going to resist a magazine with features on Robert Crumb's album art, Tom Waits, and the divine Molesworth? Not me!

It's funny, I suppose. As I left the car on the drive with its engine running while opening the garage door (that was always my task when we arrived home, of course) I bent my arms (as usual) around the invisible column of air (just in front of the lock) through which the faulty gutter invariably drips, dodged the drip successfully, and felt a powerful urge to look round and grin at Christa watching from the driver's seat, just as I always used to do... <Sigh>

It's 19:44. The tum is comfortably stuffed with the last of the crockpot, and is now having cranberry juice added. There's an interesting-looking "Storyville" on BBC4 later. Bro appears to have firmed up his arrival time, and I've got an evening out tomorrow to look forward to. Plus the current evening sky is now a lovely pale blue with much lighter clouds than earlier. Life is sort of OK-ish, I guess.



1  An even more tedious 25.3MB on the PC Christa used, as she has some Microsoft applications that also have security holes, hard though that is to believe.