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Monday, September 09, 2013

Dark Days


Day 0+1



They still haven’t gone!  The neighbours from Lower Limbo (aka Hell borders) are still here and the female version is still Puffing for Posterity.

To our absolute horror, an overheard conversation seems to indicate that they might all be here until the weekend!  Unprecedented, unprincipled, untolerable.  And I am going to let that last word stand because its strangled form expresses precisely how we feel!

My morning swim was at its best because I swam in an empty pool.  An especial delight.  In the sunshine and in the open air – and warmish water. 

And my bone music system is still working well.  Well, the reproduction would result in my returning any other music system which did as badly – but you have to make allowances when you are dealing with something which works through cheekbones and under water!  It is an advantage if you like pop music and you are playing tracks that you know.  My original (some years ago and with a different system) plan of getting to know the late quartets of Beethoven while going my lengths was a basic non-starter!

My post-length cup of tea is now made to an approximation of a half-way decent cuppa and is at least acceptable – which believe you me is something of an achievement in this country – and was made for me while I responded to the greeting that I had when I got to the counter.

One of my ex-colleagues from the school next door saw me and said, with a considerable amount of aggression, “What are you doing here and not there!”  It took me the whole of the conversation to realize that I should have countered with exactly the same comment, as she should have been in school.  But let it pass, let it pass!

I do hope that this chance meeting is not going to result in telephone calls siren-like tempting me to quit my happy state and revert to early morning misery!  We shall see.

It certainly bucked me up to see my colleague scuttle off to her place of work while I settled down with my pseudo-cuppa and a versatile phone.

I have managed to balance my work/life conflict today by engaging in a little light sunbathing and completing stage one of my revision, i.e. doing the course review.  I am going to enjoy the more detailed revision because there is no aspect of this course that I do not find interesting, taking in as it does subjects as diverse as the posthumous idolatry of the Bulimic Bitch; the history of overpriced Greek vases; Travellers taking black idols to the sea and back; strange Cabinets of Curiosity; incunabula; Khatyn, Katyn, Yama and associated places of death and memory; Elvis the King; a Native American’s brain and what the white man did with it – in short, the usual delights of a well planned and constantly fascinating OU course!

Sooner or later I have got to make the effort to synthesise the three or four “libraries” that I have in the house so that I can find what I think I might have when I need it.  At the moment my collections are scattered over three floors – and that phrase is partially literally true – so that finding an individual volume is an exciting, though exhausting, paper chase.  I am hoping that over the next couple of weeks (as light relief from revising) I can bring “even more” order to a system which has what one might kindly refer to as “ragged edges” at the moment.

One television programme to which Toni is addicted (and I am not averse) concerns a couple of Americans living in Ohio (?) who go “picking” or visiting scrap yards or junk houses to see if they can buy “stuff” which they will be able to resell for a profit.

Some of the places that they visit are literally junk yards with rubbish strewn over a sometimes-vast acreage of land, submerged in vegetation or covered with earth.  What is surprising is how this seeming chaos is like a carefully organized museum display to the owners who confidently assert that, “What you’re looking for is under that car chassis.”  And lo!  It is!

I feel that my books and I have the same instinctive relationship.  I sort-of know where things are, but sometimes it is just too much trouble to dig down or through or over to prove to myself that the volume is there, when the information I need is so simply available from the Internet!

Though the books are so much more and will never be replaced in my affection by eBooks no matter how slick and convenient they are.  I would not want to do without my eBooks but the reading experience is simply different.

For example, thanks to the generosity of Amazon (yes, I am being ironic) I bought an eBook called, “Why?  Answers to everyday scientific questions” by Joel Levy.  This book has an awful cartoon-like cover which reminds me of the worst sort of educational book of the early sixties, but the content is excellent.  It is popular science which perhaps tries a little too hard to be hip and funny, but is clear and interesting.

From time to time on the pages it refers you to another section of the book, and to get there all you have to do is click on the word and magically you are there.  How you get back to where you were is not quite as easy and it is simplicity itself to get yourself lost.

You also tend to read sequentially because you are tapping on pages to get to the next, but this book is quintessentially a “dipping” book where you flick-and-read – except you don’t in the electronic version.

On the other hand this is the sort of book that you read once and then it is just taking up space on your shelf.  It was too good a read to throw away but it is just dead space.  On a Kindle, who cares!  It can stay there forever and, although I have learned that there is a measurable weight of the information stored, I also know that you have to have a very, very, very sensitive balance to discover it!

In short is it a book I can recommend without hesitation (especially for 99p from Amazon) though I would prefer to have the book full of pages in my hand rather than a screen.

Madrid has not been given the Olympic Games for 2020 and there is a general witchfinder general approach to apportioning blame.  The most interesting personality to come out of the debacle astonishingly badly is the lady mayor of Madrid, some PP idiot, who mistakenly thinks that she can speak English.  Her grimace-filled, mispronounced and leering performance has been lovingly re-broadcast, especially her phrase urging members of the Olympic Family to have “a refreshing cup of café con leche in the Plaza Major” in Madrid.  This is already on a T-shirt and has been made into a rap song and is going to haunt her for the rest of her, hopefully, short career!

Corruption continues to blossom in this country with accusation of financial misdoing following creative accounting and the wiping of hard disks.  All of which end up with our glorious governing fiasco PP.  They are a bunch of contemptible clods and the sooner they are moved en mass to prison the better.

But the sun was shining today and the first tranche of pupils have been forced back to school so the streets and shops are gloriously un-crowded and the noise level has dropped dramatically.

The 11th of September is Catalonia’s National Day during which there is going to be a Human Chain across the country to say something or other to the national government.

More importantly, the 12th of September should see the rest of the school population returning so that civilization will be justifiably returned to the Just Retired – and I mean the word “Just” in all possible senses!   

We are counting the days to The Departure!
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