The Future of Text, the Visit to Munich, and Some Social Media Stuff


So much to catch up on, you guys!

If you read me on Facebook you’ll know that I am just back from visiting Ken in Germany. There was cake and there were doggies and there was the Englischer Garten (English Garden – did you guess?) and so many things. And one of the things was a week long conversation about where we are going in our virtual lives. Here’s his take on the convo Having Cake and Discussing Which Direction We’re All Going

Since I got back we’ve been Skyping and continuing the conversation. There’s an element of collaboration as well, since in the intervening time I went to the Future of Text conference here in London which he’d wanted to come over for but couldn’t and then he hooked me up with Frode Hegland via Facebook and I got an invite, so we have been hooching up some sort of a text on that, which is still in the oven.

On the hot plate, though, is a slice of netiquette that he asked me to blog about because he thought it was interesting. In a kind of dry way, but it makes my fb experience better, and I get to see more of my friends’ posts there because of it. I’ve done it so often now it was kind of hard to find an example I could use, but here’s one which will serve as an example.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 16.52.05

What I’ve actually done is, rather than hiding friends or letting fb drop them for me, which I don’t want to do, I just hide some of the stuff that people share. Not that I never want to know which US state I should live in, just that I have done those quizzes a million times and I now never ever see them in my feed, thus freeing me to enjoy the other content that people who I’m talking to are sharing without having to see the quizzes I’m not interested in, and at the same time, because of that, seeing more content that I do want to see.

So, see how, for instance, Shaun has shared a thing from Comedy 103.1 and say there was a lot of their content in my feed and I wasn’t interested in seeing any of it, rather than stop seeing Shaun and all of his posts I get to just hide all from Comedy 103.1.

In reality, I can’t remember if I have ever seen any Comedy 103.1 material before, or whether it would clutter up my feed if I let it, but if I wanted to, as I did with the interminable quizzes, I could just scroll down and hide them instead of hiding Shaun.

Given that FB has decided to do friend culling for us with their evil algorithms, it’s nice to be able to exert some control beyond installing Adblock and making sure notifications are ON for specific friends, rather than actually creating groups, which, thus far at any rate, I haven’t been interested in doing.

So that was that.

Here’s a picture of Ken and his dogs in front of a Peace Monument.


One of the Good Guys

I have so many photos from the trip, and that’s another thing I’m thinking about. I’m kind of reassessing my entire virtual presence. Where should I post my photos? Should I go the Instagram way? I do have an account, it’s just that it’s only got two pictures in it so far. Should I post photos in tumblr, even though the people I follow are artists or art curators? I just don’t know right now. It’s a thing I have to think about.

So yeah, this is a place holder to tell you I am going to tell you about the Future of Text soon, but not right now, there are photos and thoughts, so many thoughts, from Germany. I’m pretty sure there are other things as well, but I’ve had rather a roller coaster health horror since I got back and I’m only now having a moment to reflect, and I’m on some new medication, which seems to be helping, but for now it’s making me a bit stoned, too.

So, that.

Ach! Language! So much language stuff. And music. The cakes, I told you about the cakes. Talking of that sort of thing, if you follow this blog in Facebook through the button there you really only get the blog, I don’t put incidental stuff there. Go ahead and friend me if you want that sort of ephemera – I’m Elaine Axten, pretty easy to find, not many of us to the pound.

In Praise of Shitty Weather


Friday was ridiculously hot. It was Zone 1 London in the summer hot, with that intimation of hosepipe bans and the feel that it could be one of those summers where fans sell out and people start whining about it being TOO HOT.



I don’t like to be a curmudgeon, and while my mind is of a cloudy turn, my body certainly behaves better in the warm, but now that we’ve moved house a fair few things have changed in the daily routine. On the Tottenham Riviera we were on the ground floor, it  was Zone 3, and on a river, and I didn’t have to have Pops on the lead for most of any outing. Here, we are in the microclimate of the centre of town, up four flights, and the parks are often FULL at the first sight of sunshine. Full, that is, of HAZARDS.

By ‘hazards’ I mean children, people eating, people trying to have some alone time lying down quietly, that sort of thing. All things a Bobbins likes to either actually disturb or threaten to disturb, which amounts to the same thing in terms of having to police her.

In the shitty weather we doggy types get the park to ourselves.

On Friday it was extremely hot and Poppet did her new thing of having to have several lie downs all the way home as well as a couple in the stair. And that was for the morning play. By the afternoon it was baking so hard and the park was so populous that there was no chance of play, and even without it she still played ‘old dog’ all the way home.

When I first got her she was estimated by All Dogs Matter as being about a year old, and thought to have been made to mate on her first season, the beginnings of her white muzzle being thought to have been caused by the shock of this too early breeding. By the time we were on the Riviera and we had a vet appointment she was nominally about four, and he said there was no way she was under seven. Usually if people ask her age I tell them I don’t know, that she was adopted, and I give them the parameters, but if I can’t be bothered or if I think they are really not interested (a lot of people ask a dog’s age, it’s a ‘thing’) then I’ve just been saying “seven” for the past couple of years. Despite her greying muzzle, I’ve continued to argue her youth, but now she’s doing the lying down thing I’ve revised it upward. Her age of convenience is now firmly ten.

Anyway, the weather didn’t do as threatened, and we are now back to the shitty weather we also complain about. However, today it didn’t take a moment to get her out and running about, and we had the park pretty much to ourselves and yesterday was the same, even though this is the weekend. I don’t begrudge the sun seekers their pleasures, but I am going to have to figure out a way around them with the dog.

I was going to write this yesterday but we got waylaid by a chap called Roland and his dog Crunchie. I’m shit at remembering names, but Roland is my brother’s name, and Crunchie is an excellent name for a dog. She was crunching on a stick when we met her. We also know a Harry and Barry, but I have no idea which is the man and which the dog, so knowing their names doesn’t help at all.

More Blogs about Buildings and Food


In which Ken and I spend a week looking at buildings and eating food. Yeah, we went into museums, but that’s really not why we came.

Ken has won at blogging this holiday, and that’s a fact. Over the week he’s blogged about our first encounter with an arancino in Oranges aren’t the only meat, about how we have fabricated an entire cultural history of Palermo based only on talking to each other in A backstory for all of Palermo and our eventual sit down encounter with cake in Winding streets and churches and finally cake. I, on the other hand have posted a couple of photos on friendface and have saved up so many photos I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN.

These students didn’t know that I was from the home of rioting since 1982, but they did a little welcome protest for me. Bless them.

The people from the internet were very keen that we should have cake, but it took us a few days to get around to it.

Ken giving ‘our’ dog some sausage skin.

We watched this dog from our window. He seems to spend his day herding traffic. After enjoying the sausage skin and saying hello to us some guys were pushing a van to get it started and he hared off to ‘help’.

This morning’s weather.

We slept like nuns in our little skinny beds.

The room was nice. And the people looking after us were kind but not in our faces. It was an easygoing scenario.

There was some sort of cooking going on behind this scruffy exterior.

The guy saw me taking a photo and waved and got his friend/brother to get in for another shot, but this one was better, so.. sorry friend/brother, you didn’t make the cut.

These trees are not good for making tree lined avenues. Rogue trees.

I think I read about these trees in Kew magazine years ago. Some city, not Palermo, I think, since they don’t seem to go in for avenues here, decided to use these to line a street. The thing is those ropey tendrils come down from the branches and then take root and grow into trees, so the trees just colonize the space over time. Not good municipal planting.

The puppet museum had a full set of Punch and Judy puppets.

It was the least tempting museum for me, but actually I liked it the best. I don’t suppose anyone comes to Palermo to go to museums, but we felt we should.

A couple of holy fellas.

Ken’s last day we stopped in a tailor’s and had an impromptu jam.

I would have walked past here, but Ken saw the instruments and went in. They made us welcome and we had the best time. And the most interaction we’d had all week with local people. Here’s a piece of advice for you – musicians make good travelling companions. Ken brought his uke out a lot, and played to various people, but even without it, music brought us together.

The guy eating biscotti taught Ken a choon.

Simon, the guy in the red jacket, said it was a ‘magic moment’ which it was. He asked if we had an electronic address, which we did. Hopefully he emails and I can send him the link to this post.

Ken leaves in a couple of hours, then I will have 24 hours on my own before my flight home.

Paris is a Trip


I am back from la France. It was brilliant. There was cake and cheese and shoes and bees. We met la Messy Nessy Chic and we gained muscle mass on the hills. Everything with ‘Mont’ in the name? That’s going to be a hill, it turns out. And hills go up as well as down. It’s good though, because it made me feel like I was burning off the cake, and also it helps with getting your bearings.

i forgot to mention – i have spidey skills

Before we went, Terri said “How do you feel about Montmartre?” How could I feel anything about it since I had no idea what it was going to be like? Well, it turns out to be very pretty, pretty central, and she got it for a deal, which was good, because although it’s not the MOST expensive neighbourhood it would have been no deal at full price, probably.

I knew about the trip in plenty of time to brush up on a few words, so I had some books beside my bed which lay unopened while I watched Eddie Izzard instead. His advice, to take a monkey, a mouse, a cat, and a chair with you so that you can work them into the conversation at the hotel was spot on, I simply can’t fault him.

One of the language moments I had was when Terri was reading out the rules of the hotel for me – and I mistook drink for fish. I had a fairly surreal moment wondering why anyone would need hot fish bringing to their room, and thinking well, if they are going to all that trouble offering hot fish, perhaps it would be rude not to order some? before realizing it was boisson not poisson she was talking about. Easy mistake to make.

warning – bees. bees, that is, with swords.

I’d been delegated to make the Eurostar bookings but there were questions and time passed and there was an air strike… as I watched the cheaper seats disappear I had to make le decision executive and make an effing booking already. So, by this time we could have stupid early or quite late, and I went for stupid early. I was quite worried about it because if they didn’t let us in our room early we were going to be knackered and snappy and hanging around, but happily the room was ready so we had a little lie down and then a sort of bonus walkabout in Montmartre. Imagine if there was a pretty hillside with a fancy building on top next to Kings X? It would not only be nice, but also handy for orientation.

tezzer dans l’atelier

The reason I could afford to go, and indeed Terri herself, was that she’d got a grant from her University to put together a proposal for a kind of cool hunting image pool for her students. We went to la Goutte D’Or and she took some shots which I can’t show you yet, but there was one of a woman in a knock off Burberry jumpsuit which was horrible and fabulous at the same time. Because this is a kind of rough neighbourhood it was tricky to get shots even with a phone, so I didn’t take any with my camera, but as we were leaving the area we found this street which had been given over to designer/makers and we went off on a totally other tangent, also useful for her college purposes. We found these people reviving the art of bespoke shoe making in l’atelier Maurice Arnoult – which was a cool story because it had apparently been quite a macho trade, and the last surviving practitioners decided they wanted to revive the trade and teach women, so that’s what they did. The oldest of them is over 100 years old and is now seeing the dream come into fruition. The only near equivalent we have in the UK is Cordwainers which was taken over by London College of Fashion in 2000. At Cordwainers you can learn how to design and make – but here in Paris you do it from scratch for the individual client. A cost price only, without labour, pair of shoes from the college starts from 800 euros.

yeah, that receipt is for a video not for anything remotely going towards having a shoe made

shoe lasts

The next day we went off to meet Nessy. She’d arranged to meet us in a Cafe in a fancy part of town, and because of Metro connections and probable walking distances we set off early and went to a further away stop, which involved fewer changes, and walked. This was the horror part of the trip. The area around the Champs-Élysées is like, say you were walking down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace and then times the whole thing by a kaleidoscope. It was blastingly hot, with little shade, and although there is some green space it’s mainly all massive colonial buildings with statues covered in gold leaf reflecting off the sun and burning your retinas. In Paris people drive pretty fast, and there are also a lot of motor bikes and I saw something which made my otherwise happy heart shrink like a raisin. Among the traffic on what was, and I am not exaggerating, a six lane highway, was a horse pulling a trap. It’s not an uncommon tourist thing but it was super shocking to see this poor horse in the middle of all this really hideous fast noisy traffic. Terri tells me that even the Central Park are being wound down.


Anyway, after we had escaped the cruelty and statuary, we hit the Seine and found the cafe. We went via Avenue Montaigne which is where all the full size stores for Prada and the like are lined up. If you have ever been to Bond Street forget it, because those are ‘fun sized’ stores by comparison to these monsters. We were still hungry and a bit worried about how much it was going to cost us to eat in this neighbourhood, and when we got to the Savy I was totally afraid to buy food there, but happily there was a cheap and quite good place next door, so we could stuff our faces before we went to sip coffee and be urbane. On consideration I wished I’d left room for cake, though, because once I had got over my fears I started to like the Savy a lot, and I suspect they do good deserts.

bloody glum lion

I saw this lion just after I had seen the sad horse. I felt his pain.

It was so bloody hot out there, and then, naturally, just as we left Vanessa to head for the Metro it utterly pissed down. As I entered the Metro totally soaked to an audience of dry Parisians waiting for the hell to stop a man asked me “Il pleut?” Which was very bloody funny of him. (It was, quite).


Here are some cakes, they come earlier in the story, but I wanted to put them beside the picture of cheese.

cheese and meat

Terri asked Vanessa where she would eat on her last night in Paris, and rather than guide us towards some insanely posh place, or even somewhere French, she told us to go to a little (tiny) Italian on rue Lamarck which was conveniently located on the street we were actually staying on (and anyone who knows my sleeping hours will realize this was what meant it could actually happen) called Babalou. This was the entree we shared before eating so much that I could not manage a desert, not even a tiny one.


Enfin although I have more photos, here is a little kitty eyeing me from across the way from our room. I also saw a very fit half naked man a few times, but refrained from photographing him. All the windows in Paris seem to be FRENCH WINDOWS which is a kind of window I approve of wholeheartedly and wish I had throughout my flat. We had ours wide open throughout our stay and were treated to many noises. But they were French noises, so that’s okay.

As well as being stuffed with kitties, there are also LOTS of dogs in Paris, and most of them walk off leash. This is now illegal in the UK, but it has been a long time since most dogs even knew how.

Now that I am back from the France since one day, I am minded to share with you this Armstrong and Miller sketch.

And even more enfin I seem to have put my hand up to be in the third Have a Word in Brighton in August.

nic collins’ lovely graphic for ‘Have a Word”

Hector’s Home, Prison Break, and PhD Braindeath


I wonder how Hector is getting on? You ask. I wonder if he is GROWING? You ask. Well, it turns out he is both growing and stretching… in a trick perhaps learned from Poppet he clearly has a ‘See this? This is ALL MINE’ streak a mile long down his back.

i’m too sexy for my super kingsized bed

Considering that when we first got him he slept on my neck, yep. I’d say he’s growing up to be quite the long leggedy hunk. I’m chuffed that Ryan chose to keep the name. He still looks very Hectory to me.


My current TV obsession is Prison Break. I don’t know who it was who turned me on to it, one of the Kirsties, perhaps? Anyway, it’s GREAT. It comprises of several series, it has a long story arc, it has eye candy and it has SCIENCEY ‘what have we learned?’ stuff.

“pretty” has to take his top off because, spoiler – his tattoo is a map!

…So that justifies his toplessness and we needn’t think of ourselves as OGLING. (Which we clearly are).

Like Breaking Bad, Prison Break involves problem solving. From BB we learn that some acids will corrode a body and metal but not plastic, and from PB we learn how good at problem solving engineers are. And sexy, clearly they are sexy.


I realize that I have been a bit AWOL. I’ve been a bit ill and a bit busy, and today I had my final important deadline – the resubmission of the PhD proposal. Because I’d been so ill and also dealing with the vile ESA paperwork (application for this year and appeal tribunal for last year both at once) I had failed to notice how quickly my PhD deadline was coming up. In the middle of a massive migraine yesterday I was looking it up and when I saw it was TODAY I thought I’d really messed up and that it would be impossible to do anything productive with it. Today, though, I  have spent all day reading the chapter the supervisor asked me to read, skitiching a reference to it into the proposal, looking at the proposal with fresh eyes and totally reorganizing it, murdering a few darlings, adding a bit of explanation, and finally sent it off.

I am now completely exhausted and await my dinner which is being crafted as we speak by Ten. Which is just as well, because I am ALL OUT of spoons.


OOh wait! Also, I made a tumblr the other day

An Instagram, Dog Silliness, and My New Hoodie


Gentle reader, I have been away in Brighton. And on my trip I had my hair cut. And on my trip I had my hair cut and my photograph taken…

i’ve been instagrammmed! like a modern person (thanks julie!)

And on my trip I had my hair cut, my photograph taken, and lots of visitors – OK I am bored with that game now, as are you. Sorry. Anyway, the upshot is that having had my hair cut for the first time since the crazy Russians did it back in Bethnal Green, I felt I was perhaps presentable enough to get a mug shot taken that I could use across social media platforms. I had thought perhaps my friend Grace might do it, since she has a good eye, but the visit was busy and I didn’t grab the moment. Howevs, before we left I asked Julie to do it, because she also has a good eye… and she is all about the Instagrammings so between that and the sunshiny paintings in her living room I have had to do a total redesign here at elaine4queen, since everything before was all pale and light and now I have all the vividry a person could ask for. So, hence the kind of teal background, and the sunset garden – mine, by the way, so properly mirroring the welcome to The Hermitage’s actual location on the Tottenham Riviera. What do you think? Do you miss the picture of Poppet’s feet?

We were there to take the sea air (by which I mean visit friends) and look after Diva, the little ancient staffie. In a previous visit there had been small beasts in a cage in the garden, but it seems they have met their demise. During the previous visit Poppet had to be banned from the garden because she obsessed with the damn things, and even then she spent half the visit hanging out an upstairs window hankering after them. She still thought they were there so was dancing around barking… which gave Ten an idea.

crate training?

Poor Poppet, she seemed confused. Even after inspecting the inside of the enclosure she was still not entirely convinced that they wouldn’t be back and kept checking. This enclosure, by the way, is something which I like very much. It’s called an Eglu and is a designer chicken home. If you click through you can see how fancy, there is a little video. Until I became aware of the Eglu I had had no interest in chicken keeping, but who wouldn’t want to keep chickens if they had one of these?

Lastly and leastly, I came back to a PACKAGE. In it was a HOODIE. I have never knowingly had a hoodie before, and I am enjoying it immensely. This one is a bit fashion and the zip goes all the way up. So I could go about with my face entirely covered. Maybe cut eye holes.

ready to do all the crimes

Doggy Drama, Passport Photos, and Pork Pies


A-And they called it Puppy Love…

a break between bouts of fight club

There’s been ALL THE DRAMA with the Hector adoption. A couple came to see him and they were really keen and really nice, but they both worked full time. I did think this was a bit ambitious of All Dogs Matter since Hector screamed the place down at the vets, and not because of the snippy snip. He doesn’t mind going next door to Steve’s, but he does cry if I go out, and they had said they would want to take special care of his separation anxiety. Turned out there had been a bit of miscommunication, so the couple were sadly disinvited from adopting him. Better for him, but they really loved him and will be terribly disappointed. I am glad it wasn’t up to me to tell them.

They do have someone more appropriate lined up, but I’d rather they went with my neighbour, Brian, who has a staffie, Max, who likes Hector. He is retired and he takes Max massive walks every day. He says he is keen, but even if he phones today the guy who ADM like is coming to see him TOMORROW so there’d have to be something go wrong for him not to want him, I guess, and this guy does sound good… I suppose there’s another doggie who Brian and Max might like. Considering every time they post on facebook I repost with oohs and aahs, so they’re not short of lovely dogs.


In travel news, my friend Lottie has asked me if I would like to go on holiday with her and her sister and her sister’s kiddo. Why, yes, I would like to go stay in a lovely villa in Spain paid for by their dad, I most certainly would. As you know I am BRILLIANT at Spanish having bothered to learn “bathroom” for our previous trip, and managed very well with just that and mime. I think it helped that we were in deepest Spain, and I was twice the height of everyone else and blonde. I was probably like a cross between Boris Johnson and Big Bird to them.

Suddenly I remembered my passport had run out and I’d failed to fill in the form for a new one, so I got to it last night, and threw in a pair of photobooth photos with the application. It was only this morning that I thought that the likelyhood was that these photos were even older than my last 10 year passport so I’d better get some new ones done. I opened the envelope and retrieved the ridiculously young me photos and prepared to meet my face in the mirror. I haven’t worn make up for a really long time, but photo booth photos bleach your face out anyway, and since I have near invisible eyebrows and a pale face I though’t I’d better do some colouring in. Just as well, too, since the photos came out rather bleached anyway.

not a serial killer, just not allowed to smile for passport photos

Imagine if I’d gone up there bare faced? I’d have looked like a balloon in a wig.


On the 11th I go to the Headache Clinic at the Neuro Hospital. IF they bestow me regular botox I could be looking at having a significantly different prognosis. Also, going into the summer, if it’s anything like last year, I should at least get three decent months. Last year I just needed a break and I took it. This year, knowing that it would be forwardable, I would first of all be into dropping as much medication as possible (already started, CHECK) and dietary reform (already started, LIKE A BOSS). The problem with dietary reform is everything you aren’t going to eat any more becomes super beguiling. Even stuff you didn’t like before. One time I knew someone who was on remand in prison. Edgy, I know. Anyway, he craved pork pies, which, he said he never liked normally. Now that’s me, only without the prisony bit.