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Friday, April 5th, 2019 03:28 pm
(Whey I say 'this morning' I mean yesterday, Thursday. I wrote this then sent it to myself for posting, then forgot about it.)

You know what’s annoying? When someone who’s paid to help tells blatant lies.

OK. I went out last night – to church, which anyone who knows me will find somewhat perplexing – and when I left I was nicely calm and centred. On the way home, however, I became aware that I had the worst headweasels for a long time – I was convinced that Smokey would be dead when I got home. No idea where that came from, except that I’d become overtired by spending a day at work, then going for drinks (involving walking to the pub) then going to church (involving walking to the church) then going home on the tube (involving walking to Westminster tube). By the time I got home I was totally exhausted. So, headweasels.

And my feet were killing me. There was much pain; my plantar fasciitis is still causing me grief.

She wasn’t dead. In fact she was better than she’s been for quite a few days, and even had some kittenish playtime, which she hasn’t wanted for days. She was much improved, really, and ate her tea with gusto. I checked her litterbox and that was well used so that’s improved too. (I know, TMI about the cat’s litterbox.)

So this morning I get up, get ready to go to work, knowing that it’s going to be hard on my feet. And what happens? Signal failure at Tower Hill. The District and Circle line is not running clockwise. I get to Liverpool Street (I would normally change at Mile End) and it’s still b0rked and the anti-clockwise District and Circle line is rammed with folk. So I think, OK, I’ll get the number 11 bus which goes down Ludgate Hill and along Fleet Street, Strand and Whitehall.

I go out into Liverpool Street station and ask at the “Information” booth where the number 11 bus goes from (because its normal stop is shut due to building work) and am clearly told that its normal stop is operating again. But they lie. It’s not.

Thus I have to look at TFL’s (incorrect) map and find the number 11 stop, which turns out to be stop “U” on London Wall, next to what they describe as Broad Street, but is actually called Old Broad Street. These minor points can make a big difference in London.

I walk, with my painful feet, to London Wall, and eventually catch the number 11 bus to work. It takes ages, but is scenic.

So far, that’s been the highlight of my day. Well, Smokey being better is really the highlight of my day.

MPREG follows me around

I was sitting in a cafe having brunch when a comparative silence fell, and just as it did so a woman sitting on the next table says, "I think he's pregnant!" into the lull.

Just thought I'd share that with you. I have no idea what she meant, the rest of their conversation was drowned out by that of other diners.
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Saturday, March 23rd, 2019 12:52 pm
I’m marching in spirit today, I’d have gone but I’m struggling with pain in my feet. Plantar fasciitis.
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Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 11:54 am
Jeremy Hardy has died. I had been vaguely wondering why I hadn’t heard him on the radio recently, but it seems he was suffering from cancer.

He will be much missed. I have his “Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation” on download, and listen to them from time to time. As a socialist, he was a fellow-traveller (or more likely, I’m a fellow traveller of his), and I very much enjoyed hearing what he had to say.

I also loved hearing him on “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue” where his inability to sing was legendary. So very funny.

There are other comedians I kept my ears open for (Andy Hamilton, Marcus Brigstocke, Mitch Benn) but Jeremy was a favourite. I’ll miss him.
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Monday, December 24th, 2018 01:56 pm
The fridge is stuffed with goodies, and there are more good things on the side in the kitchen. We have mountains of chicken, oodles of pigs in blankets, lashings of champagne and pillows of marshmallows.

Unfortunately, I still have the cold from hell and keep breaking off whatever I’m doing (watching nothing happen on my work computer, sleeping) to cough like a thing that coughs. A grampus, whatever a grampus is. And my ribs are sore where I’ve been coughing, and my throat hurts. I’m due more cold medicine when I’ve finished this.

[personal profile] shezan visited yesterday and I hope I didn’t give her this cold, because she just doesn’t need it. Smokey liked her, she was very attentive. Mind you, that could be because [personal profile] shezan brought taramasalata and Smokey was drawn by the smell of fish.

I’m expecting [personal profile] aunty_marion some time soon. I’m listening (for some value of listening) to Classic FM, though their choice of Christmas music is quite often the tune the old cow died on. I’m not one of John Rutter’s biggest fans, never have been. Give me a few good old carols and I’m happy, forget this modern stuff.

Having said that, my favourite “Christmas” song is the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s “Fairytale of New York”, though a colleague said it was chavs arguing. I like it, and play it when it’s not Christmas.

No sign of my cleaner. I suppose I should empty the bins.
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Sunday, November 11th, 2018 06:19 pm
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


John McCrae
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Thursday, April 5th, 2018 05:14 pm
As advertised, I went to Follycon, the 69th British Science Fiction Convention last weekend, which was held at the Majestic Hotel, Harrogate.

Travelling up was fine – there was supposed to be a train strike on Northern Rail, which runs trains between Leeds and Harrogate, but though the service was crowded, the one I was booked on ran. I’m on the side of the strikers, as I will normally be, but in this case because what’s behind the strike is the question of guards on trains.

I normally ask for assistance when travelling by train. The reason for this is because I can be quite chipper and healthy, and able to manage my bag…and I can be really very ill and struggle. This time I wasn’t too bad on the journeys, but I can never be sure. Without guards on trains, I could be in real trouble.

The Majestic Hotel is a Grade I listed Victorian building. This created quite a lot of interesting problems for those with access needs. The dealer room was situated down a steep flight of stairs. I only made one visit to the dealer room, and I managed going down the stairs OK, but had to get them to send one of the golf buggies they’d thoughtfully hired to get back to the main hotel as I couldn’t manage the stairs back up, and certainly not in a long frock.

Mind you, the hotel or the concom can’t be held responsible for the fact that standing makes my hip hurt and standing around in the dealer room made me really hurt. So I didn’t stay long.

I bought a book by Linda Stratmann called “A True and Faithful Brother” about the murder of a Freemason, which I haven’t finished reading. I like Linda’s books, they’re always a well put together murder mystery starring an admirable Victorian woman called Frances Doughty. Go read, she’s good. I also bought some yarn from someone selling that. There are lots of fans who are also crafters, not least [personal profile] aunty_marion.

I spent several hours volunteering on the Information Desk, which I rather enjoyed. I got the same questions repeatedly (mostly (a) where can I leave my coat? (b) where is the nearest cash machine? and (c) how do I get to the dealer room?) and I quickly learned the answer to all three.

The answer to the question, ‘why is the food in this hotel so awful’? I never learned the answer to, but the Info Desk was open to ranters, so I just let people rant at me about the food. Mostly concoms are on the losing end with hotel food anyway – even if it were all Michelin starred, someone would hate it.

This time they did have reason, though. Basically, the food was just below the level of standard mass catering. The breakfast was fine, and they had those perennial favourites of fans, mushrooms and black pudding, so no complaint there. But the food the rest of the day was not great and a bit overpriced for what it was. You also took your life in your hands if you had an allergy – the beef sandwich described to one person as ‘just beef and butter’ inside actually contained mayonnaise and horseradish. Or it might have been horseradish mayonnaise. I liked it, but if you’re allergic to either horseradish or mayonnaise…

The programme was busy and eventful. I attended a panel on Horrible Heroes, in which people discussed the claims of various book heroes to be actually quite unpleasant people was discussed. One person’s choice was Mr Rochester, another choice was Mr Darcy. I forget the others.

I went to a space talk given by Dr Rachel Livermore (I hope I’ve spelled her name right). She wasn’t one of the guests as such, but an attending expert on space from the University of Sydney. (I’ve met her before at a K/S convention but didn’t raise the matter in case she was embarrassed.) Her talk was great, and I came away with the impression that all is more complicated than I can possibly imagine.

I know there was another panel I went to, but I can’t remember which. It was good, anyway.

My favourite item was the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. It was slightly overpriced at £8.50 for two scones and tea, but there was as much tea as you could drink and the convention put on entertainment, one of which was [livejournal.com profile] clare_nce telling a story about an Arab prince and a sage and his Ebony Horse. She was excellent. There was also live science experiments and a bloke singing a couple of funny songs that were funny. So, great. Loved it.

I didn’t go to any of the guest talks.

In other news, I’ve signed up for next year’s Eastercon, the unpronounceable Ytterbium which will be in London, at the Park Inn, Heathrow. That will be an interesting one to get to. You wouldn’t expect somewhere further away to be easier to get to, but for me it is.

Now to book [personal profile] aunty_marion to care for Smokey while I’m away. She took excellent care of her this year, Smokey is full of beans and cat food, and currently pretending to be a pile of fur on top of her cat tree.
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Monday, April 2nd, 2018 11:15 pm
I am back from Follycon, the UK's Eastercon, held in Harrogate.

If I'm up to it, I'll write more tomorrow.
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Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018 02:42 pm
Christmas went well, I had a guest, [livejournal.com profile] aunty_marion and we ate various comestibles all either from packets or from frozen. I don’t believe in cooking if I can avoid it. Aunty Bessie does roast potatoes much better than me. [livejournal.com profile] aunty_marion doesn’t like things like raisins or sultanas so I had all the Christmas pud, which made me very happy. Having a guest for Christmas was lovely, and Aunty Marion is welcome any time.

My two cats are still not on speaking terms, though Pixel (the new cat) almost put a foot out of the bedroom yesterday. So minor progress there. Smokey and she hiss when they encounter each other, though judicious use of treats as a reward for quiet is reducing the incidence of this.

I’m considering how Pixel might be brought into the living room without World War III breaking out. Any advice gladly received.

In other news, I have had a cold over Christmas and New Year, much coughing was coughed, and it is threatening to return. I can so live without that, and so can the cats. No sooner has a cat settled on me (either Smokey in the living room or Pixel in the bedroom) than I start to cough and the poor cat leaves in a huff. It’s not much fun for me, either.
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Thursday, December 14th, 2017 02:41 pm
I went to the dermatologist today, for my follow-up appointment.

It turns out that the suspicious mole I had removed with such urgency was a “melanoma in situ”, the beginning stage of malignant melanoma. The next stage is to remove the scar left by the removal of the mole, and biopsy that, just to be sure it’s all gone.

And the moral of this story is: if you have a dodgy looking mole (if it’s changing shape, or colour, spreading or generally not looking like it used to) take it to a doctor and ask for a referral to a dermatologist.

In other news, I have new specs. Cost an arm and a leg they did, as my specs always do. But for the moment I can see properly.
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Saturday, December 2nd, 2017 01:57 pm
A couple of people have asked for pictures of Pixel, my new cat. This link should work:

http://i88.photobucket.com/albums/k169/lexin0/Pixel/IMG_0075%202_zpswojjp8yr.jpg

She is a darling - very sweet, small, black and white kitty.
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Thursday, November 30th, 2017 02:34 pm
No news I can give you on the job front, things continue to grind on in a grindy sort of way.

I do, however, have a new cat.

It is thus: a friend of a friend was looking for someone to take on a cat of hers. She started the year with four cats. One, the eldest and grande dame of the household, Pippo, died. This left three cats, Pixel, Squeakerton and Polar, none of whom were happy without Pippo. Pixel was being bullied by Polar and Squeakerton was acting out (peeing where he shouldn’t and so on) so she decided to try to rehome Pixel, and Squeakerton if she could find anyone suitable.

I said I’d take Pixel. This was in June. The FOAF was going to South America in August, so said she would wait until she came back to pass Pixel over. August came and went, and I got in touch with her, and she said she’d got flu, so could I wait. I waited. September came and went, as did most of October.

Finally, she said she was ready to pass on Pixel and even then it took a little while to arrange a suitable weekend to bring her down from Norfolk to London.

Pixel spent the first two weeks here living at the back of my wardrobe and only coming out to eat, drink, pee and poop. In the last ten days or so, she’s come out into the bedroom and now sleeps either on my bed, on me or on the chair I’ve sprayed catnip all over. But she won’t come into the rest of the flat, and if Smokey goes into the bedroom, Pixel hisses and spits at her. Smokey just looks confused, but does do that fur-all-out thing that cats do – her tail looks like a bottle brush and she looks twice her normal size, and hisses, but doesn’t spit. Every other day they have a yowly disagreement, but separate without damage to either party.

Sometimes Pixel will growl at nothing – no sign of Smokey, but she sits under a chair and has a growl to herself.

I’m not sure what to do now – I’ve bought Feliway Friends and put it in Pixel’s room. Smokey has ordinary Feliway in the living room.

I want them to co-exist, if not peacefully, without fighting or growling. Any suggestions?
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Saturday, November 11th, 2017 09:31 pm
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


John McCrae
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Monday, November 6th, 2017 01:45 pm
Latest news is that I bought an Amazon Echo Plus – the one they’ve been pushing on TV – and it’s a very impressive item of kit. I went to visit a friend in Sunderland and saw hers in use, and was fascinated, so much so that I thought, “I’ve got to have one of those!” I wasn’t impressed with the thing on the adverts as they had it doing things I would never have any use for.

At the moment I use it as a music system. Setting it up to see my music was mildly irritating and not free. I had to buy the Amazon version of the iCloud and upload all my music to their cloud, then set up playlists. Setting up playlists wasn’t too bad as I could use my iPad to do that and could therefore relax while choosing tracks for the playlists.

You also use an iPad (or similar, other tablets exist) to set up the Echo itself, and I currently have one light bulb that I can control with my voice which came free with the Echo.

I’m told that I can also use it to control Plex, my video server. I’ll be playing with that this afternoon, to see if what they’ve said is true.

My only minor whinge (and it is very minor) is that if I have my TV playing, the sound on the TV can interfere with Echo’s microphones. You’d expect that, but it is irritating. I found that if I want to ask Alexa the time, I have to pause my TV programme.

So yes, a worthwhile investment, which will get better.
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Sunday, October 8th, 2017 12:08 pm
"Have you ever --?" questions and answers behind cut. Meme from [personal profile] legionseagleRead more... )
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Sunday, September 3rd, 2017 01:40 pm
From the organisers (of which I am not one...)

We are delighted - but slightly staggered - to announce that KISMET 2018 is ON!! We’ve signed the contract and paid the deposit, so we’re committed (or perhaps should be…)

When? : 31 August – 2 September 2018

Where? : Lane End Conference Centre (the same rooms we had last time!) Church Road, Lane End, Bucks HP14 3HH (www.lane-end-conferences.co.uk)

How much?: Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon (fully inclusive of en-suite accommodation and all meals & refreshments) £245

For those who want to continue the fun - Friday afternoon to Monday morning (to include Sunday dinner, & Monday breakfast) £345

Supporting membership £30

It’s still early days, but further information & updates will be provided as soon as possible. We’ll be looking for lots of help, especially on the more techie stuff, and will post requests as we think of things we need (You have been warned!)

Any questions? Ask here, message Chrissy or email us at kismetcon@gmail.com

Want to register? (please!) Contact Chrissy for payment options (we have lots!) on chrissy.hornby@btinternet.com

Love from Anne & Chrissy (who are currently being measured for their straitjackets ~ Chrissy: Can mine be Vulcan green? Anne: Only if I can have Science Blue)

****

ETAAs a further attraction, I shall be going. I have already decided, though I haven't yet talked to [livejournal.com profile] aunty_marion about sitting Smokey. Plus, it's only a week after my gaming event in Wales, which is irritating.
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Friday, July 21st, 2017 05:05 pm
I read an entry from [personal profile] brithistorian which came originally from [personal profile] spiralsheep.

I welcome all of the following types of comments on ANY of my entries:

- Single term comments, e.g. *hugs*, yay, yes, no, thanks, this, seconded, like, +1, &c.
- One or two word comments.
- Otherwise brief comments, e.g. single sentences.
- A comment that is a punctuation mark to let me know you read, e.g. a full stop, or an asterisk, &c.
- A comment that is a punctuation mark to express your response, e.g. ! or + &c.
- A comment that is an emoticon(s) to express your response, e.g. \o/, <3, :), :(, :-D, ;-), :-P, &c.
- Long, wordy comments. Feel free to ramble away....
- Comments on related topics, conversational asides, and tangents generally.
- Incoherent comments. Most of us have both posted and had practice reading incoherent comments!
- Commentors conversing with each other is also welcome. I like hosting a place where people can interact.

I also welcome:

- Comments on older public entries.
- Comments on VERY OLD public entries.
- Comments from people who are not subscribed to me.
- Comments from people who I’ve never met.
- Comments from people who haven’t talked to me for a while.
- Comments from people who’ve never talked to me.

How I reply to comments:

- I usually try to reply to comments.

If you need to know anything else then I recommend asking as a more productive strategy than speculating. ;-P

***

I don't mind arguments as long as they don't descend into name calling. I do ask that if you make a comment you stick around to defend your point of view, and don't drop a lighted match into the petrol of life, and then slope off.
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Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 08:14 pm
Smokey and I are throwing ourselves around in attitudes, as it’s very hot (for Britain) and very humid. I’m all miserable and sweaty, and I’m sure I can say the same for Smokey but she only sweats through her paws. She has quite sweaty paws, though, and was once found to be allergic to a specific type of kitty litter for that reason.

In other news, I’ve done the first pass of ripping my DVDs to soft copy. I’m left with a few irritations – some of the seasons of Criminal Minds didn’t rip properly and I’ll have to rip them again, this time into MKV files. Plus the titles got somehow mixed up (it was obviously my fault) on the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films, and I’m going to have to go through them patiently and make sure the right title is attached to each film. But it is mostly done.

I’m still following what’s coming out about the Grenfell Tower fire – the worst case of a fire since WW2, I think, and was totally avoidable if Kensington and Chelsea had just listened to the people who lived there and actually spent money on the place where it was needed. ‘Not political’ indeed! Ptui!
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Friday, June 16th, 2017 01:06 pm
According to the news this lunchtime, the number of people known to have died in the Grenfell Tower fire has risen to 30, with that number due to rise still higher.

On the BBC News website, “Architect and fire expert Sam Webb said: "We are still wrapping post-war high-rise buildings in highly flammable materials and leaving them without sprinkler systems installed, then being surprised when they burn down.

“"I really don't think the building industry understands how fire behaves in buildings and how dangerous it can be. The government's mania for deregulation means our current safety standards just aren't good enough."”


I do believe that this fire was caused by corners being cut by the local council, the cladding used not being correct for the use to which it was being put, and the fact that cladding was in place was at least partly – from the paperwork mostly – put there so that posh people living locally weren’t offended by the sight of a scruffy block of 1970s flats.

I spent most of Wednesday morning in tears, and then had to go and be interviewed for a job. Not surprisingly, I didn’t do especially well at the job interview.
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Friday, June 9th, 2017 08:36 am
Election result is a hung parliament - fun and games ahead, and, I'd guess, another election in a year to eighteen months when it all falls apart.
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Thursday, June 8th, 2017 01:40 pm
Have voted. Go me. Fingers crossed.