2009 — 22 May: Friday

Tonight's picture of Christa always makes me smile. It shows some spectacularly wild early morning hair from the mid-1970s:

Wild early morning hair

While I haven't exactly broken the run of good films, I'm calling a halt to Before the devil knows you're dead as I'd prefer an untroubled night's sleep. And it's pretty clearly heading for some ghastly Greek-tragedy-style climax. Can do without that, Sidney Lumet or no Sidney Lumet! Indeed, the IMDB comment is that "Lumet does Tolstoy".


Off to a non-flying start

When I last looked out (during the night-time ritual of the locking-up ceremony) the sky was clear, the stars were out, and it was quiet and cold. This would have been about an hour after midnight. This morning, although the sun is shining, the clouds have been piling up (and the Interweb thingy box needed recycling before it could be persuaded to admit — or emit — any electrons of communication). But so far, at 09:38, things seem to be back online. Hello cuppa!

I found this wryly amusing piece on rampant consumerism as I was listening to an MP talking about the threnody of despair (running, like in a "slasher" movie) throughout Westminster where — I gather — they await their first suicide. At least he admitted the worst part of it was that it was entirely their own doing. Re-elect that man! Meanwhile, Noam Chomsky is as penetrating as ever, this time on American torture policy.

And now I'm listening to Denis Healey, who says he finds the "expenses scandal" totally astonishing. In his time, politics was a part-time affair as you couldn't live on the salary. Diana Athill (also over 90) is in the studio with him, sounding rather more sparky.


She has "simply abandoned television... and just reads" — Denis watches a great deal when not listening to music or reading poetry. Good ol' "Woman's Hour". They have just both quoted that unenticing (but, I suspect, accurate) couplet:1

She first deceased, he for a little tried
To live without her, liked it not, and died.

Well, I certainly relate to the "liked it not" part! Now it's an interview with a lady sword-swallower. Definitely time for breakfast.

He's back...

... from a quick little hunter-gatherer episode in Eastleigh. A chap needs temporarily-increased stores when a chap's son pops in for a flying visit. Besides, it's still nice and sunny out there. In fact, a quick bite, and I'll be heading off down to Southampton for the usual "Friday" run, methinks. If Christa's watching me, she'd think it very odd if I didn't go. It's 12:36 already, somehow. How on earth did I ever have the time to go to work???

Fiddling while priests burn?

I'm unqualified to comment on the Irish Catholic child abuse report (though my sense of outrage is not far off the mark). There are, tellingly, two very different Guardian pieces by Mary Kenny and Madeleine Bunting. I know which of these two I will be more likely to read in the future. Comments associated with these pieces are interesting, too. And I can clearly hear Christa (she of the firm opinion that all religion is man-made mumbo-jumbo, remember) saying "Good god!".

Still, if Catholic priests who give free rein to their sexual and sadistic impulses are correct in their theology, I have just two questions: why didn't the prospect of eternal damnation deter them? And precisely which circle of the Inferno will tolerate them?

At the risk of repeating myself:

Civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest!

Émile Zola

He's back... again...

... from an entirely hedonistic expotition to Southampton, ahead of the holiday weekend travelling hordes. Meanwhile Christa2 has received more snail mail than me: an invitation from Honda (of course) to benefit from £2,000 "Guvmint Scrappage", and an invitation (as a loyal customer) to get 10% (off everything) at local furniture gang Peter Green this weekend. What do you have to do, I wonder, to get off the marketing mailing lists? Dying is obviously not quite enough!

What did I get? An enticing biography by Julia Jones (Mrs Francis Wheen) of Margery Allingham. I had leafed through this for about five minutes last Monday, but decided I didn't really want to pay the full High Street price for it. This may seem strange, I guess, but then I've never actually read any of the "Albert Campion" crime fiction. My paperback copy, in perfect nick, even included a card from the publisher to "Suzi" inviting her to the launch party and enclosing this review copy. (If you're a fan of Arthur Ransome, don't skip that link.)

Staying on the theme of interesting publisher links, this one's associated with the other book I bought today, "JG Ballard: quotes" from RE/Search.

Having been tipped off (and sensitised) to the presence of a pair of peregrine falcons on the roof of my house early yesterday morning, I think I've just spotted one wheeling quite high overhead as I was zapping my neglected cuppa. And Willem Defoe is currently on the BBC Radio 4 Film programme. And the sun is still shining. And I've yet to examine the three cheap DVDs I bought 'cos I've been leafing through a new magazine whose publication was, I guess, inevitable, and another that (sadly) has gone into "a bit of recession-induced hibernation" after only four issues. An embarrassment of riches indeed:

Magazines and books

Anything else?

Well, it is quite distracting listening to the ongoing self-destruction of our Mother of Parliaments, though it has its amusing moments. Listening to some of the Tories renews in me a mild urge to strangle them, or string them up alongside their Labour colleagues. A pox on all your parties. I shall just have to bury my head in the video sands...




1  I first found this on the dedications page of Virginia Ironside's excellent study of bereavement. As I noted earlier, a couple of weeks before Christa died, bereavement is damnably hard work.
2  Who, besides being dead for 18 months, hasn't been a Honda driver since we turned our third Civic in for a Mercedes "A" class back in December 1998.