2008 — 7 November: Friday

Tonight's picture? Well, Big Bro and Lis managed a trip over to the UK when our Dad was near the end of his life in early 1975. Lis, being a radiographer, knew the "score", as it were. They brought our young niece Michelle1 with them, and we took them over to Royal Holloway College to show off the architecture, and to see where Christa worked at the time.

Christa and Michelle in the grounds of Royal Holloway College, April 1975

Christa and Michelle were together for the last time back in April last year. (Picture here.) By contrast, I last saw Michelle (and her sister Claire) just before Christmas last year when they popped down from London on the train to say "hi" to their ancient young Uncle.

I caught enough (about ten minutes) of "I Robot" on Film4 last night, by the way, to know that I didn't need to ask Mike to lend me his copy. My goodness, what a travesty of the good doctor's original stories. (Did you know, by the way, that Asimov actually formulated a total of four Laws of Robotics? Nobody ever believes me, but I refer Doubting Thomasinas to the 1956 story "First Law" which you can find in my 45-year-old copy of The Fantastic Universe omnibus (click the pic):

My 20th SF paperback!


Tread softly, for you tread on my ... chords... dept.

It's a lovely, sunny morning, and there's a smile on my face as I read about some prog rock re-issues:

Was there really a time when a band could expect to do good business with 21 minute-long songs in 9/8 time about supernatural experiences involving the spirit of the pharaoh Akhenaten, performed by a vocalist dressed as a kind of bulbous alien with an inflatable penis? ... The present-day bands who are held to be under the genre's influence sound absolutely nothing like prog, as will be attested by any Muse or Radiohead or Elbow fan who has made an investigative purchase of a Yes album, then recoiled with a baffled yell of horror when it started playing.

Alex Petridis in The Guardian

Meanwhile, I learn that the new White House First Puppy options "could include a labradoodle — a cross between a Labrador and a poodle — a schnoodle (schnauzer and poodle), or a cockapoo (cocker spaniel and poodle)." (Source.) What would my late Aunt Peg (a keen fan of pedigree Labradors) have made of a labradoodle, I wonder. No matter. There's a session from Randy Newman to look forward to tonight on BBC4. Excellent.

Time for breakfast and then the supplies trail beckons.

The lure of the great outdoors...

... is still not quite allayed. So, at 15:10, it's time for a little further expotitioning. Good afternoon play on BBC Radio 4, by the way.

Back again. It's 18:24, vaguely wet, and horribly dark. I've been back home for long enough to wrap myself around a most welcome cuppa and then spend a necessary few minutes searching for "Volume 1" to show you... You see, two years and four days ago, on the first afternoon of my pre-retirement vacation from IBM, I noted my acquisition2 of a couple of fine books from Forbidden Planet (which has recently, alas, shut up shop and departed from Southampton's East Street). I wasn't in the habit of publishing little cover thumbnails at the time, but today I shall put that right as I picked up — inter alia — "Volume 2" of Ivan Brunetti's excellent anthology.

Three books

"Good God!"

It seems to me that 29% of teachers in the UK should be sacked. (Source for this entirely rational conclusion.)



1  They could hardly have left her back in NZ, could they? Michelle had been born just two days after Christa and I married in September 1974 so here she's about six or seven months old.
2  Despite, as I said at the time, my then state of impending penury.