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|Friday, April 18th, 2014|
|Paddy at 110, the Peak Park at 63, On Foot at 82
Today is my father's 110th birthday (and I've been trying to cross-post this from Dreamwidth since 8.30 this morning, but LJ has only just let me do it!)
As many of you know, I've posted some of his writing or portraits in previous years
I was already thinking it might be the moment for an extract from On Foot in the Peak
, which Paddy wrote in 1932. And then Google reminded us that yesterday was the 63rd birthday of the Peak National Park
- I hadn't realised that it came into being on the eve of Paddy's own birthday, but that must have been very pleasing to him - he was one of the first members of the Peak Park Planning Board, and served there for many years.
So I am posting the conclusion to Paddy's book, which in part discusses the philosophy underlying his emotional response to the landscape of the Peak, but whose closing paragraphs also look forward, in effect, to the establishment of the first National Parks, including the Peak, in 1951, within twenty years of his writing.( On Foot in the Peak: ConclusionCollapse )Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014|
|Finally polished one off
March is always a frustrating month, because I think that, having reached my deadline, I'll have lots of spare time, but in practice I'm running round in circles trying to catch up with all the things I haven't been doing. So I got almost to the end of the month without writing any of the half-dozen short pieces of fic I had in mind.
But on the final day of the month I sat down to write, and very nearly finished one that I first thought about a year ago, and after a bit more fiddling I think I'd better put it out. It's an X-Men: First Class
fic and, since I still haven't finished the XMFC story I promised her more than two years ago, I'd like to dedicate it to ginbitch
, as a slightly late present to congratulate her on the brilliant new job, which I hope is going well. My thanks, as always, to fengirl88
for her comments and advice.
I did spend some time looking up the official backstories of Erik and Charles, which in the X-Men Comicverse seem to be very detailed but don't necessarily fit well with what we saw in XMFC
. But it appears that continuity between the various forms of the X-Men saga is notoriously difficult, so I decided I'd just pick the bits that suited me and didn't appear to contradict what happened in that film, though of course the imminent X-Men: Days of Future Past
may change that.
There isn't any sex, but you knew that already.SILVER( 1,000 words. Erik follows a trail of vibrating metal to the kitchenCollapse )Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Sunday, March 30th, 2014|
|Remembering Joyce on Mothering Sunday
Today I took some flowers from my garden to Joyce's family grave, for Mothering Sunday. As you may remember, Joyce was my primary school teacher and we'd kept in touch for more than forty years, until she died in a care home last August.
We had a strong rapport when I was in her class, aged ten, but I had that with a couple of other teachers, so the chief reason why we remained friends was her daughter, Kim. Kim was thirteen years my senior, and in her early twenties when I first met her, but she had learning difficulties (as we say now; the term used then was mental handicap), lived at home with her parents and often came into school and sat in on her mother's classes. Despite her difficulties, she had a sharp intelligence, and a brilliant memory (it was hopeless watching films on television with her, because after a couple of minutes she'd always say "Oh, this is the one where..." and explain all the major plot twists before you could say spoiler). Kim was really very fannish, and we discovered Tolkien and Blake's Seven
together. I often went to their house on Saturday afternoons and had tea there.
Over the years, the relationships shifted, I suppose because I was growing up in a way that Kim couldn't quite do, and I remember a moment - I think when I was back from university - when Joyce clung to me as we were hugging goodbye, and it dawned on me that she now needed my support more than Kim did. She'd been dealt a difficult hand - Kim frequently suffered from physical complaints too, and was to die before her fiftieth birthday - but managed to hold down a full-time job, backed up by her husband and her mother, who lived with them at the time I first knew them.
I wasn't visiting so often by then, as I spent several years away from Manchester, but I did keep calling, and eventually returned to live here. I happened to be with the family when Kim died in hospital. After spending so much of their lives worrying about how their daughter would cope without them, they didn't seem to know how to cope without her, and Joyce's husband died a year later. Joyce lived on for another fourteen, though her mind and body eventually began to fail, and after a period when she was in and out of hospital she spent her last few years in a care home.
In some ways I think she enjoyed being back in a community after so long alone; there are elements of that life that must have recalled being at school. I visited every few months, despite her occasional insistence that I couldn't really be there because I was dead; she always knew me, though. A curious thing was that, as time went on, she ceased to talk about Kim, though she often asked where her mother was. My mother also asked after her parents in her final weeks; I think at that stage the elderly can became unmoored in time, and in Joyce's case her mind may have been protecting her from the memory of her daughter's death. (But I sometimes wondered if that memory was bleeding through in her belief that I was the one who had died.)
I think the last time I actually saw Joyce was Mothering Sunday last year; I kept meaning to go round during the summer, but just when I was planning to go I heard that she had died. I was shown some lovely photos of her at the wake, and asked if I could have a copy of one in particular, which showed her as a beautiful young woman. Her executor brought me a batch a few weeks ago; it didn't include that one, but I've copied several others, as well as a couple from the time when I knew her.( Photos behind cutCollapse )Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Saturday, March 29th, 2014|
|Love Starts at Midnight
Equal marriage begins at midnight in England and Wales, and the first same-sex ceremonies will be starting as I post this. I can't stop smiling.
I have never married, and don't expect to do so - I think it requires a combination of faith, hope and love which is probably beyond me. But I am nevertheless deeply satisfied that, if it ever came to it, the gender of my intended would no longer matter one way or the other.
I would like to send loving greetings and Britten's first Canticle to all those who are planning to marry this year, whether gay or straight, but especially to those marrying tonight, and to my niece, and to toft
.( Canticle I - My beloved is mineCollapse )Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Friday, March 28th, 2014|
I've been very bad at keeping up with my ramblings in various parts of the country since we went to press four weeks ago. This post is intended to catch up with assorted picture spam from March. ( Nine pics of Ely cathedralCollapse )
I seem to have failed to take any photos at Manchester Art Gallery (or maybe I wasn't sure if it was allowed), but I was there with espresso_addict
about a week ago to see the Joana Vasconcelos exhibition
. At first this seemed rather absurd, but it really grew on us. The big pieces are in a paid-entry gallery - including the amazing Lilicoptere
, which was apparently made for an exhibition at Versailles, and Vasconcelos described as a helicopter for Marie Antoinette, though after hearing The Ride of the Valkyries in another part of the exhibition I want to see a production of The Ring
in which the Valkyries arrive in helicopters covered in ostrich feathers and Swarovski crystals, with steampunk controls. But there are plenty of smaller pieces scattered throughout the main collection (she'd evidently planned this carefully - eg there was a snake next to The Temptation of Eve, and one work was set up to frame Holman Hunt's The Shadow of Death). A specially commissioned work, Britannia, which hangs in the Atrium (through the shop, and around the stairs leading up to the modern galleries), reminded me of the alien in legionseagle
's Tunnelling to Freedom
, only much fluffier and clearly benign. It's on until June 1. Do go and see Britannia, at least, if you're in the vicinity.
Last weekend I was in Derby, where there seemed to be an awful lot of police on duty to control the arrival of the Association of Cricket Statisticians in town, though it eventually turned out they were more interested in Derby County v Nottingham Forest. Anyway, on my way back from the cricket ground there was a fantastic ( Double Derby RainbowCollapse )
This past week has belonged to the Manchester Histories Festival
, at which there have been various Peterloo-related events, of which more later. But I also took the opportunity to call in at the new-look Manchester Central Library. ( Fourteen pics of Manchester Central LibraryCollapse )
In the evening, I was at a debate entitled ( Peterloo 2019Collapse )
There will be more Peterloo events at the Manchester Histories Festival on Saturday. I'll be on the Peterloo Memorial Campaign stall inside the Town Hall, and there's also the second half of a workshop on contemporary documents concerning the Manchester Rising of 1817
(the Blanketeers), plus a talk on Shelley's Mask of Anarchy
followed by a reading.
There was music and theatre and cinema in the month too, but I'd better call a halt for now.Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Saturday, March 15th, 2014|
To celebrate the Ides of March, Sarah Morrissey and Genevieve L. Morrissey have unveiled Raffles Redux
, a website containing the complete text of the Raffles stories with detailed annotations, contemporary illustrations, photos of the Albany etc, plus a map of 1890s London marking sites mentioned in the stories. Looks good!Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Friday, March 14th, 2014|
For the last few years, we've had fortnightly doorstep collections of plastic bottles, but not other forms of household plastic. I used to take the non-bottles up to my mother's, as her council had skips for all forms of plastic, but haven't had that outlet since she died (even I would regard it as eccentric to take a train to the Lake District in order to visit a municipal skip), so I've been hoarding the other plastic in the garage waiting for a solution. A year ago, I saw new orange skips at Ely's Sainsbury which took plastic that wasn't bottles, so I wrote to Sainsbury asking whether these were coming to the largest branch near me. They said yes, but they couldn't tell me when. So since then, I've been calling in every few months - I don't go to that branch very often - but no orange skips.
Today, however, I had to collect a postal item from the sorting office near Sainsbury, so I walked round to the carpark with some low energy bulbs, which they already recycled, and bingo! Orange skips! I inspected the instructions carefully, and was disappointed to find that they still won't take black plastic trays (the sort in which vegetables are often packed), or "plastic food packaging", which could mean anything. But yoghurt pots and margarine tubs were explicitly in.
So I took the bus home, and went through the three sackfuls of plastic in my garage sorting out items I judged acceptable and those I suspected wouldn't make the grade. And then I caught another bus, carrying a sack and a half's worth of yoghurt cartons (there must have been a couple of hundred, in three or four stacks), margarine tubs etc, and fed them all into the skip. It took several minutes.
I still have more than a sackful of black trays and other plastic, but it's an advance. And it will be quicker in future, as I will be able to sort the plastic immediately into bottles for fortnightly collection, yoghurt pots etc for occasional trips to Sainsbury, and the rest for storage until someone comes up with a solution for disposing of it. Possibly I will separate the black trays from the clear ones just in case that turns out to be the next distinction...
Hurrah!Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Wednesday, March 12th, 2014|
|My mother and her clients
Today is my mother's birthday; she would be 89. (Happy Birthday, too, to 2ndskin
In the past few years, I've posted something that my mother wrote, or photos of her, to mark the anniversary. But in January, I read this Guardian article
on the decline of mental health wards, by Nathan Filer, a former nurse, and that made me think about my mother's job as a psychiatric social worker. The general point of Nathan Filer's piece rings true: that we were doing some sort of good on the wards (though my memories are of the 1980s rather than the 2000s), and maybe we're not doing it any more.
It was the line "To serve Christmas dinner to a person who has nowhere else to go, but who believes she is being 'eaten alive in this place' holds a quality of sadness that I think exists only within the mental health system" that struck me, because I have a very different memory of Christmas dinner on a psychiatric ward.( Read more...Collapse )Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Thursday, February 27th, 2014|
|Six of one and half a dozen of the other
Today has been a happy day. My part of the annual deadline has passed, so when my niece rang to say she was in town (her fiance is helping to run EICE radio at an event called Education Innovation
) I could go and meet them. When I got home, I went swimming for the first time since Christmas. Walking back, the stars were very clear, though I couldn't see the Northern Lights. And it is six years since Tabitha and Rosie came to live here.
Actually, the cats have come to appreciate my intensive phase of work, as it means I spend a lot of time sitting at the computer, and if I'm sitting down I can be sat on. Today's sudden gadding about wasn't ideal for them.( So to make up for my going out, there was tuna!Collapse )Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Monday, February 24th, 2014|
This evening I keep finding myself singing this verse of a hymn (by Isaac Watts, 1674-1748):
Blessings abound where'er He reigns:
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains,
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed.
I'm not sure what's put it in my head, but I always loved that image of the leaping prisoner. It's probably connected to the prospect of freedom after my annual deadline, which isn't here yet, but is getting very close.
The other music running through my head is "Pots and Pans" by The Kills, which I encountered through this brilliant Deadwood vid
made by theleaveswant
last month. selenak
linked to it then, since when I can't get it out of my mind. I think it may be time to watch Deadwood
On to short legs and Nelson Mandela.Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Sunday, February 23rd, 2014|
|Knowing when enough's enough
A few days from the end. Trying to eliminate sleep through coffee.
I believe the MJN crew are going to Zurich this evening, and I hope all goes well for them.
Also today, I notice that Radio Four is about to give us a three-part dramatisation of Pride and Prejudice
I'm fond of Pride and Prejudice
, and am sure this version will be nicely done. But the phrase "You have delighted us long enough" comes to mind. Let the other
authors' works have time to exhibit.Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Friday, February 14th, 2014|
A happy birthday to mraltariel
! I hope it's a very special one, with an extra card!
I'm two weeks from going to press, so in a desperate state - I've just forced down a mug of coffee in an attempt to stay awake for the rest of the day and as much of the night as possible. But I'm surfacing to post a song for Valentine's Day, as is my tradition.
This year it's Syd Barrett's rendition of a James Joyce poem. It came to mind because altariel
took V to Syd's bench in the Botanic Garden
the other day, and because Radio Four is halfway through Stephen Rea's nightly readings of Dubliners
And it was only this week that I found out Yolande Palfrey, who played Veron
- Kasabi's child - in Pressure Point
, died in 2011. So this is for golden-haired Yolande.( Golden HairCollapse )Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Saturday, February 1st, 2014|
|A better class of sofa
Gosh, it seems to be February... that's alarming, given what I still have to do by the end of the month. Anyway, a couple of months ago, my niece asked what I'd like for Christmas, so I suggested Behind the Sofa: Celebrity Memories of Doctor Who
, edited by Steve Berry.
"The celebrity bit sounds rather off-putting," I said, "but it's for a good cause as the royalties go to Alzheimer's Research."
My niece couldn't get hold of it immediately, which I hope means it's selling really well, but it finally turned up last week. So I opened it, and the first entry I read was from Lindsay Duncan, which was encouraging. And then I glanced down the list of contributors, and was thinking "oh yes, good to see him, and her, and him", when my eye fell upon "Una McCormack".
Well, clearly I missed the memo when "celebrities" was redefined as "jolly nice and interesting people who are entirely qualified to comment on the subject, some of whom you've actually met". Celebrity culture, here I come!Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Tuesday, January 28th, 2014|
|They're just these fans, you know?
Thanks to assorted parties for kind greetings, and to legionseagle
for The Ballad of Lady Smallwood
, which gives a key character of His Last Vow
the extended starring role she deserves.
It occurred to me to share a thought I had the other day, prompted by a conversation about fanfiction between Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss in the extras of the latest Sherlock
DVD. For those who haven't heard it, the transcript is as follows, courtesy of the remarkably comprehensive arianedevere
We did this as possibly the biggest sustained act of fanfiction, and as a result there's fanfiction about our fanfiction.Mark:
And I do think that's where storytelling comes from.Mark:
It's that lovely thing of generating new content around it. It's the sort of thing that got us into writing.( At this point I had better use a cut, for those who have not yet seen The Empty HearseCollapse )
And now for something completely different: my mate Matthew is doing Four Thought
tomorrow evening - he's talking about keeping a secular Sabbath.Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Monday, January 13th, 2014|
|His Last Vow, and my response to it
Well, as I've said elsewhere, I really enjoyed the final episode of the third series of Sherlock
, right up to the last minute, when things turned sour and left me with mixed feelings about the fourth series. But since then various people have tried to persuade me that the final minute might not mean what it appeared to mean, so I am resolved to live in hope.
And, in the meantime, I am going to contribute to the backlash against the backlash by proclaiming that I really enjoyed this series. I don't think any episode reached the heights of A Study in Pink
, but I've come to believe that nothing ever will (ASiP
benefited hugely from being made twice, which is a rather expensive way to go about things), and there was no dud like The Blind Banker
and nothing that made me queasy like the cutting down to size of Irene Adler.
I'd say that as a series
these three episodes hung together in a way that neither of the previous two series managed. I'd been thinking beforehand that, in view of the long gaps between bursts of Sherlock
, it might be better to space the episodes out - one at New Year, one at Easter, one in the summer, perhaps. But I've changed my mind now, because these three needed to be seen together; the first two elegantly set up the third.
From my point of view, of course, it helped enormously that the series arc was the story of a character I loved. In December I'd worried that the writers would make a mess of Mary Morstan, but I was delighted by her, and by Amanda Abbington's performance. I kept thinking "they'll blow the good work in the next episode", but they didn't. In fact, I'd say that this was the best series so far for women. (It may even have scraped a Bechdel pass in the few seconds concerned with Mary's Christmas reading.) Mary was fabulous; Molly got stronger by the episode as she built on her progress in The Reichenbach Fall
; Mrs Hudson acquired more backstory, and it very nearly fitted the one I'd worked out for her; Donovan didn't get much time, but in her brief scenes was still Lestrade's trusted colleague; Janine held her own; and if they can work out a way to keep Lindsay Duncan around I'd be very happy, because she was gorgeous as ever, and particularly good in her scene with Lars Mikkelsen.
Of the not-women, I loved the reinvention of Anderson, and I really hope Billy Wiggins is more than a one-off character, because he was a hoot. And, finally, we got a villain who was genuinely cool( slight spoilerCollapse )
So, all in all, I sat through Sunday night's episode with a big smile on my face, until the last minute. And to wash away that sour aftertaste, I offer my own final scene.
OUTSIDE THE BOX
( 222 words. This is, honestly, what I thought Lestrade would see in the pub. In my version, several weeks have passed since the previous scene.Collapse )
Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Sunday, January 12th, 2014|
|150 years of Lancashire County Cricket Club
On January 12, 1864, the Manchester Cricket Club (based at Old Trafford) organised a meeting of 13 Lancashire clubs - Manchester, Broughton, Longsight, Western, Liverpool, Huyton, Northern, Ashton, Blackburn, Accrington, Oldham, Wigan and Whalley - at the Queen's Hotel on the corner of Portland Street and Piccadilly.
The object of the meeting was "to consider the propriety of forming a county cricket club, with the view of spreading a thorough knowledge and appreciation of the game throughout Lancashire", and the clubs agreed to form a committee to set up the club.
This was a Very Good Idea, which has shaped my life. It also happened two months before the publication of the first edition of John Wisden's Cricketer's Almanack
, so LCCC is the older institution.
Happy 150th Birthday, Lancashire!Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Monday, January 6th, 2014|
|Sunday, January 5th, 2014|
|In praise of Ms Morstan
Well, OK, before The Sign of Three
arrives and makes me regret this, I'm going to write something brief about The Empty Hearse
, and it's this: sod We Didn't Like the Way They Did the Solution* (I could write a explanation of why I think they called that right, but not tonight), and sod It's Too Clever and Pleased with Itself, and sod It's Trying Too Hard to Play with Fandom. The whole project has been fanfic playing with fandom from day one (when Molly showed up as the personification of the voyeuristic fangirl, wincing with pleasure as she watched Sherlock in action with a riding crop), and if the TV critics didn't notice then they weren't concentrating.
But everyone seems to have been distracted by all that from the thing that pleased me most about the episode, which was that (from where I'm watching) they played fair by Mary Morstan in a way that they didn't by Irene Adler.( To elaborate with more spoilersCollapse )
But it's just dawned on me that they're airing half an hour earlier tonight, so I must run downstairs and find out whether they've blown it or not.Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Tuesday, December 31st, 2013|