2009 — 19 November: Thursday

Well, I actually re-watched the new version of The Day the Earth stood still. This time I made it through all the documentary extras, too, and quite a lot of the writer's commentary. Meanwhile, here's a relatively recent picture of Christa — mid-March 2007, in fact. Only the 22nd picture I took with the new Canon (though I guess it hardly qualifies as new any more):

Christa, March 2007

So now (of course) I'm catching up on the "Buzzcocks" that I forgot to watch "live". It only needs about a third of your attention. "The Welsh are the Belgians of England" heh? Phill Jupitus walking off. Potty-mouth Charlie Brooker. And a pregnant Martha Wainwright dancing a clue... Great stuff.


Good morning,...

... world. Glorious music (Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne) on right now, a fresh cuppa at hand, and even a few spots of sunshine inbetween the clouds. Magical. It's 09:18 but then I didn't actually go "lights out" until somewhat after 02:00 — when a chap gets stuck into something, a chap tends to lose track of time. Time for some brekkie.

I've read Christopher Hitchens on and off, over the years, since his essay collection "Prepared for the worst" back in 1988. (What am I bid for my first edition hardback? I describe it in my database as "clever and quotable".) Koestler, on the other hand, I mostly read as a student (and none of his stuff is currently lurking on my shelves). Though I'm pretty sure there are still German editions of "Darkness at noon" and "The Call Girls" knocking about in Christa's study if I look hard enough. Anyway, this tickled me — source and snippet:

The word one might choose to describe this riot of enthusiasms and contradictions would be promiscuous. It would certainly sit very well with Koestler's private life, which was a hectic, alarming, and sometimes violent blend of alcoholism and satyriasis...
This book provides persuasive evidence of acute manic depression, combated in one way by sex and booze and in another by devotion to a series of causes. Otto Katz once said to him, "We all have inferiority complexes of various sizes, but yours isn't a complex — it's a cathedral." Koestler liked this remark so much that he included it in his autobiography, thus attaining the status of one who could actually brag about his inferiority complex as if size mattered.

Christopher Hitchens in The Atlantic

Koestler's suicide note (quoted in Wikipedia) makes for thoughtful reading. That I had forgotten!

Grand Day Out

On a lighter note, Wallace and Gromit have been going for 20 years. Though I don't particularly wish to hear from two of the three "high profile fans" here.

In search of lunchtime listening, I've resorted to the "Goon Show" on BBC7. I remember laughing many many years ago. It seems my sense of humour has mutated over the years. The past is indeed a foreign country in which they do things differently. I think I shall now take myself out for a spot of fresh air before the promised floods.


My new favourite word, defined during this fascinating (if obsessively odd) "Oulipo" programme, supposedly by Aristotle, as the state you have to be in to make a new friend. Lovely. Though not quite how Wikipedia puts it. (A rarely used medical term referring to a state of normal mental health. Even better.)

Back, at 15:10, to a couple of lumps of post, and one for a neighbour. Cuppa first, then investigation.

Imperial ambitions

Christa and I both enjoyed the two seasons of "Rome", though I have to admit I remember relatively little of the second season back in 2007 as her illness was by then such a horrid distraction. We'd both also admired the venerable "I, Claudius" 32 years earlier (though I never did persuade her to read the two Robert Graves novels). I'm also a keen fan of the "Falco" series of novels by Lindsey Davis, featuring the world's first private eye / Imperial agent operating in various corners of the Roman Empire as a much put-upon troubleshooter for the Emperor Vespasian. So, buying Rome Season #2 for less than £12 was a no-brainer. As for Oliver Stone's "W" — a Blu-ray for less than £7 of a film I enjoyed and want to see again. Also, not a difficult decision.

DVD and BD

Maternal fate

Alas, I do face a difficult decision. What to do about my ancient mother? Her memory and thought processes are now clearly winding down towards that delightfully unintelligently designed state common enough in great age. Being 150 miles away doesn't help, of course. She's always been totally adamant that "You're not putting me in a home!" and has never wished to come and live with either of her sons. Largely because of her attitude towards her sons' wives, but that's another story.

There are times when I idly wonder how long it would take me to emulate the Nicolas Cage character in "Leaving Las Vegas"... Let's see what magic solution Big Bro can come up with.


Last time I looked, we seemed to be "safe". I've just checked the latest flood map after hearing tales of wet woe on the radio:

Flood risk

My red "X" marks the dry spot. As far as I can see, I seem to be about 75 yards away (as the seagull flies) from the "Extent of extreme flood". And perhaps 25 feet (as the bubble rises) above it. I see there are some marked differences in the new map from the one generated in June 2007.