Friday, 30 March 2007

Total trivia

Did you know that Lalla Ward was introduced to Richard Dawkins (whom she's now been married to for quite some time) by Douglas Adams? Cool.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Home Chat

Oh what bliss. I’m sitting here in blazing sunshine, editing copy on a laptop, with the cat stretched out on the table next to me, clean washing undulating gently on the line, and Sasha in a pushchair gurgling and squawking happily and pushing brightly coloured toys back and forth (the pink and turquoise Tinylove monkey is a creature of nightmare, I feel, but presumably they tested it and found that babies didn’t mind it).

We’re just back from a long weekend in Italy, where the weather was just as good but it wasn’t home… the only blots on the horizon, almost literally, are the seven enormous molehills in the lawn -- and the two audacious ones in the herb garden. These aren’t tiny picturesque mounds left by the black velvet gentlemen -- they’re gigantic, almost frightening. They are also working their way steadily towards the house. If they’d only go in the opposite direction, they’d be in the grounds of Sawston Hall (yes, we abut a stately home) and nobody would give them any bother. Not that I’ve done much more than jump up and down impotently raging. Bastards.

I’ve just finished reading ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’. Thoroughly enjoyed it -- it was actually very pleasant to read a book that simply set up a situation and then followed it through. I thought there might be a tiresome twist in the tale that would end by making the whole thing less credible. This may be because I’ve just reread a novel by Christopher Priest, ‘The Glamour’, which has exactly one of those tricksy mucking-about-with-the-narrative-voice denouements. In Priest’s case, though, I haven’t read a single one of his books that doesn’t do exactly the same. He likes to switch back and forth until he reckons he’s got you confused. The snag is, I often feel that he’s more confused than I am -- or at least, I’m never convinced that he’s kept track of things: I suspect that he cheats by simply making a mess. ‘A Dream of Wessex’ does this, and so does ‘A Quiet Woman’ and ‘The Extremes’. After those I got bored and gave up, so I haven’t tried the more recent ones. ‘The Glamour’ has a more interesting premise -- it’s another take on invisibility -- and the mess isn’t quite so messy as in some of the books. I must see what Amazon readers have to say about him. I have a feeling that he was once the Great White Hope of British science fiction, but I’d be surprised if people hadn’t been disappointed.

Audrey Niffenegger, eh? What fabulous names some Americans have. Actually, Audrey is a bit tame for a first name. Gates. DeForest. Imagine!

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Random thoughts, from home

Good grief, it's been a whole month. I've just finished typesetting the NCT newsletter -- a misnomer as it's more like a magazine: forty-eight pages of ads and editorial, and I did the lot. It was fun, in that obsessive way that page layout is, for me at least. My poor baby has had very little attention these last six days. I also got a brand-new PowerBook delivered this morning at 10am, and haven't even opened the parcel yet. My darling A was suitably gobsmacked by my ability to delay gratification waaaay beyond what he would find feasible or certainly humane.

We had a very good weekend with all the family, including the usual compulsory Healthy Walk on Sunday. The kids always whinge hugely at being dragged outdoors, however glorious the weather, and then of course make just as much fuss about being dragged home again. Golly, but it was cold. I was walking around the green behind the new health centre with the pushchair while A and the kids went on the swings, and felt all nostalgic as I followed the same route when nine months pregnant and trying to get the baby out. I'd made a very new friend, Philippa-from-down-the-road, and we went out with her dog, a completely deranged pug that ran along at tremendous speed looking like a mechanical toy. I'm sure it was laughing so much that got me started. Philippa moved house just before Christmas, and I do miss her: I never pass her old house without a pang. She wrote to me recently saying what long words I used in my blog... It's nice to know someone's reading it, anyway. Hello world! Hi, Philippa!

Sasha gets ever more smily and gurgly and flirtatious. Also occasionally squeaks very high, like a dolphin -- or at any rate like Daryl Hannah in Splash when she demonstrates fish language and shatters all the televeision screens. The exemplary child has been dozing while I did last corrections and is still obligingly snoozing as I write this.

I have joined the Parish Council. A sign of incipient middle age, surely. We leafleted the village and trounced the opposition. Tonight I had my first meeting: the cemetry committee. To the victor the spoils! One can only hope that the election campaign won't turn out to have been the most exciting part.

We (meaning me and the infant) have taken to walking to the next village whenever we go to Cambridge, to save £1.90 on the bus fare. A thinks I'm deranged; I think it's a good example of how stinginess engenders good habits, as if by accident. One of the reasons I'm fairly fit is because of the amount of time I spend walking to save bus and tube fairs. Last time we went it was a glorious day, crisp and sunny, with views for miles. I do like the fens. If you're going to do flat -- and I don't see why you shouldn't -- it might as well be truly, absolutely flat. Actually, this is the first relationship I've had since 1991 that isn't with someone who pines for mountains all the time. This is good.

I have discovered Green & Black's Organic Chocolate with Butterscotch. It's the first time I've ever got really obsessive about chocolate: I have to ration my intake and might easily finish a packet in a single sitting if feeling sufficiently sorry for myself, I feel (for whatever reason -- or perhaps I'd invent one...). Is this how other (normal, feminine) women feel all the time? The stuff is ruinously expensive. And I am, I suspect (there are no scales in the house) not losing any weight. I don't really want to have to give up all the jolly pairs of trousers I've collected. But I've discovered that any attempt to modify what I eat just makes me blazingly cross. I'm not one of nature's dieters, obviously. It's somewhat chastening to realise that my former slenderness was based absolutely on good luck and not at all on strength of character. Bah!