2010 — 8 February: Monday

Hello, pension. Say hello to bank account...

It's the witching hour. Or, if you're a Bard buff, the witching time of night. With perfect musical accompaniment from Pat Metheny. G'night.

The game (re)commences, usual fee...

... plus expenses. Or, if god exists but is hiding carefully from us that's not very fair, is it? Like playing with a stacked deck, in fact. Check out Jesus and Mo — bang on target again.

Woke rather too early but now (several hours later — 08:57) seems a much more reasonable time. There was even a brief bit of sun, but the clouds are back. In Somis school, too. This article on Maya maths (base 20, apparently) being taught in a Californian school attracted the following delicious comment among too many others:

This is so unreal to read... this is FREAKING AMERICA PEOPLE, learn OUR LANGUAGE AND MATHAMATICS OR GET OUT. I'm so tired of hearing the options to press #2 to hear a message in another language, I'm OVER IT

SoCal2010 in Ventura County Star

It's balanced somewhat by someone quoting from Heinlein's character Lazarus Long. But I do love minds that are so open that the brains actually fall out. Thinks: better elevate the ol' blood sugar before I read on. Mind you the Torygraph piece on the ludicrous legal judgement of the ex-PM's wife I mentioned here has attracted, shall we say, a similarly unedifying set of comments.

Shades of the Red Queen of "Alice" fame: Just how many impossible things is one nowadays required to believe before breakfast?

Getting an email life

My son, who has only my very best interests at heart, has just suggested I can benefit from close study1 of this. But then he is currently exactly half my age :-)

Time for a blast of fresh air, methinks. (Inspired by the council workers busily blowing leaves from point "A" to point "B" and back.) [Pause] Well, a 50% success rate. I filled up the car but failed to find where Asda hides its battery collection point. However, when I got home and rang Mr Council, he told me that a) places that sell batteries are now obliged to collect used ones, and b) the boxes are cardboard, and thus kept somewhere in the store, not out among all the other collection bins. I didn't press him on why the glass collection chaps spurned my neat bag full of about four years accumulated dead accumulators in the first place, and I won't further add to the planet's pollution by making yet another short trip out until I have another motive. Afternoon tea, perhaps?

Besides, I'm still taking in the implications of the partial closure of Leigh Road, which put a nasty crimp in my fallback plan to swing by the local tip. I need another cuppa to calm the nerves :-)

It's 12:12 and miserably cold out there, with a hint of rain. Must be winter.

Displaced loyalty

Lunch now quietly digesting, I've tackled a bothersome bit of domestic administrivia. I've mentioned before (here and here, for example) Christa's literally life-long loyalty (here in the UK, that is) to the large bank that I naively assumed I still had my house contents and buildings insurance with. They blithely took the last direct debit premium last October, however, and failed to draw my butterfly-like attention to that simple fact. Greenbee to the rescue, as not only are they both cheaper and simpler, but I also get points on my John Lewis card. And we all know what points mean, don't we? Sorry, Christa!

Back from expotition #2. Brrr. It's just two above freezing, and a suggestion of flaky things in the air. Nasty stuff. Time (15:06) for the cup that cheers if I can persuade my neighbour to put his kettle on. The batteries (the dead ones, that is) are safely gathered in by Ms Waitrose.

More flaky stuff and a mere +1C as I rolled out the green bin at 16:45 — I'm now listening to "Beyond Belief" and a variety of views on the epic of Gilgamesh. Death was invented for ecological reasons? No comment. I think I've thought and talked about death quite enough in the last two years and more. It's all too hard for this particular bear of little brain. Better to enjoy chocolate and my chums, I think!


And music: Daniel Barenboim is going great guns with Beet's 3rd Concerto. Great stuff. Loads of notes to get his teeth into.

Catching up with a recent "Late Junction" while browsing the web, and testing some of my bookmarks, I have to hope that Clive James never finds the time to dissect anything I write in the way that he chose to here, with a sentence by Neil Harman he found in the Sunday Telegraph, sports section, on 8th July 2001. Source and snippet, starting with the offending sentence:

"Now, the onus is on Henman to come out firing at Ivanisevic, the wild card who has torn through this event on a wave of emotion..."

In his classic sentence, Mr Harman does not commit a single technical error. It is on a sound grammatical structure that he builds his writhing, art nouveau edifice of tangled imagery, as if Gaudi, in Barcelona, had coated his magic church of the Sagrada Familia2 with scrambled eggs, and made them stick. Mr Harman has made a masterpiece in miniature. There is an exuberant magnificence to it. As Luciano Pavarotti once said, I salute him from the heart of my bottom.

Clive James (originally) in Monthly, Feb 2008

Also caught up with my recording of the Sesame Street programme. Brilliant. I remember Christa and I would walk round to our friend Val in Old Windsor to watch "The Muppets" in colour on her TV and share a cuppa. This was over 30 years ago — amazing!

My other friend Val (over in snowy Stockholm) is running late on her emailing, which may be an indication of a glitch somewhere between my use of Google behind the scenes and her use of Hotmail. Last time, she said Hotmail had consigned an email from me into her junk pile because of an "offensive" subject line. Though what's deemed offensive about "Oops" is anyone's guess. Any road up, I shall try again while listening to the BBC Radio 3 tribute to John Dankworth. And then (ahead of tomorrow's marathon dental session preparing my poorly molar to be crowned) I shall call it a night. It's already 23:32 and seems rather cold, too.



1  My own close study of the sludge in the Google Mail spam filter over the last three weeks or so clearly suggests that the major preoccupation of the planet is with the chemical enhancement of the male's membrum virile. Since the more blood there is in that, the less there is to get up as far as the brain, I think I may have stumbled across an alien plot to subdue our species... Should I email the United Nations?
2  Subject of an excellent album by Alan Parsons, by the way.