2008 — 29 November: Saturday

As I mentioned recently, Christa did the best she could to carry on "as normal" for as long as she could. Tonight's picture reflects that — she was always a keen gardener, and was at work (and enjoying it) even just a week before her final hospitalisation in mid-October 2007. Amazing woman:

Christa and her flowers, 8 October 2007

Just look at that smile!

I've been listening to some of the new batch of CDs. I never realised Sonja Kristina became Mrs Stewart Copeland. Nobody tells me these things... G'night, at 00:04 or so.

And "Good morning"...

... again at about 09:54 — I've been more or less conscious for the last 30 minutes or so, being finally coaxed out of an interesting half dream / half reverie by a subtle knock on the door by a new, young Postie. The weather is calm and dry, but it's only 2C above freezing. The first cuppa tastes good!

Christa would have smiled at this:

When I stepped in and found myself in a small, hot space full of naked bodies, I backed out immediately, worried that I'd stumbled into a private party. This being Switzerland, I had been given a full page of spa rules, in English, but they made no mention of nudity. Later, I asked for the German version, which included clear regulations for the Nacktzimmer, the naked room. Were they trying to restrict nudity to German speakers? Had long experience with stupefied foreigners convinced them that English speakers can't do nakedness?

Katherine Ashenburg in "You do the Bath"

At the same website, there's a lovely piece on the Narnia books and CS Lewis by Laura Miller, the co-founder of Salon.com — what an amazing web. Here's her take on 2007's literary feast.

Insanity piled on inanity... dept.

Or should that be the other way round? Did you know the Trident nuclear submarine programme is zero-rated for VAT? I was led to this extraordinary fact (rather indirectly) by Marina Hyde's article here. There are many robust comments attached...

Here's hoping... dept.

I've begun reading "Little Dorrit", and will be supplementing it with one of the items in today's little delivery:

DVDs and CD

Tut tut, it's your own fault... dept.

As I also mentioned, rather less recently, I occasionally get the flickering visual zig-zags at the edge of my field of view that possibly show a migraine could be on the way. They certainly stop me from reading while they gradually move out and across my vision until they mysteriously fall off the edge (as it were) and normal ocular service is resumed. I've come to associate them with some combination of fatigue, contrasts of lighting, and (in this case?) failure to eat lunch in a timely manner. It's now 14:54 and the calorific intake has been dealt with. Quite deliciously, too, given my historic antipathy towards our vegetable friends.

Interestingly, the nearest I've yet seen to a visual representation of this phenomenon was many years ago (and many years, too, before I first experienced it) in one of John Hadfield's "Saturday Books" with a picture of a cat, basically outlined by a series of rainbow zig-zags. Rather worryingly, this had been painted by a patient diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia. (I am, to exhume an ancient — and inaccurate — joke, in two minds about this!) I rather think the artist may have been Louis Wain.
Update: Well, thank you Mrs Google and Monsieur Wikipedia. Here's the exact image I was recalling:

Louis Wain cat

And, for any trivia buffs, this image has been used on the cover of a 1980 EP "Oingo Boingo" with music by Danny Elfman! That little factoid was slipped on to the pages of Boing Boing on the very day, last September, of my last little "attack". Now, where did I put my ice-pack?

Further trivia... dept.

I'd been idly contemplating changing the main heading on my home page ("Blessed are the nonchalant...") — I quite liked the look of Chomsky's 1957 sentence "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously" until I discovered how popular it is! But my "research" did unearth another fact that tickled me. Edward Gorey's parents divorced, then remarried some years later. In what could be called the gap years, Gorey's stepmother was for a while Corinna Mura, who (uncredited) sang the "Marseillaise" in that wonderful 1942 movie Casablanca. Time for tea!

I've worked my way through the incoming CDs — not a dud among them. It was particularly nice to hear "Gryphon" again. And to hear Ivor Cutler on the Robert Wyatt album (produced by Nick Mason). The "Curved Air" was a revelation. All good stuff. And all essentially rather different from most popular modern beat combos... I'm obviously getting old. Later tonight, of course, I have a date with Studs Terkel.

And now, mysteriously, it's 23:07 and I've just finished turning the CDs into mp3 files for greater convenience while listening to another excellent Bob Dylan Theme Time radio hour. I tried the Boris Johnson examination of the clash of civilisations (having heard it get only positive [p]reviews earlier this evening on Radio 4). But when push came to shove, no matter how charismatic the presenter, it was still all about warring tribes and their interpretations of man-made mumbo-jumbo, so I only lasted 15 minutes or so. Sorry, God!

You have to admire Nature sometimes. I was just downstairs putting away the dry dishes and making a final cup of peppermint tea (and, if truth be told, a couple of buttered digestives with jam on as a pre-midnight snack). The small slice of unused turnip I've not yet got around to discarding has sprouted a couple of stalks and some small green leaves (shoots of recovery, I guess). Ten out of ten for effort.

Just updated the playlist. 27,365 tracks (not including podcasts). Play on!