Martial Arts, Fostering Watson, and Sarah Lund’s New Jumper

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Talk about the opening of your favourite book.

Angry White Pyjamas by Robert Twigger opens in the streets of Tokyo. The protagonist is dawdling along and he finds some ball bearings that are used in gambling halls in the gutter and is childishly enjoying them when suddenly he witnesses a volatile incident between two drivers. As he watches he is on tenterhooks wondering how a salaryman can possibly avoid a beating from a truck driver wielding a piece of wood. The incident ends in the classic abject physical apology of the salaryman bowing on the ground and begging forgiverness to the gratification of the truck driver.

Twigger, aged 30, was given pause for thought. What could he have done if things had escalated? What if he, himself was suddenly attacked? He feels the natural vigour of his physique from his twenties had slid into a pulpy unreliable decay. Before taking us along for the ride of a lifetime as he learns martial arts as taught to the Japanese police force, Twigger paints a picture of the slovenly life he and his flatmates are living. As his uneasiness about his physical weakness gnaws away at him he describes the daily life of physical and intellectual laziness he and his friends shared. Their appliances gathered from dumpster diving, their grimy apartment and cheap crappy food. They lived in a crumbling part of town, and none of them were doing anything worthwhile or even interesting. The three of them decide to shape up and take themselves along to the local Dojo…

I have bought and lent and bought and given away more copies of this book than any other. It may be the book I have read most often, and I’d happily read it again. Being evidently autobiographical it kind of fizzles out at the end, but the book itself is gripping – and has won both a literary award and a sports writing award. 

***

In animal based news I will find out today whether WE MIGHT FOSTER WATSON!!!!!

watson! he’s only two! little boo boo! pops will go mental!

The facebook blurb on him said;

I NEED A FOSTER HOME WHILE I WAIT FOR MY FOREVER HOME!

Watson is a 2 year old neutered male Mastiff cross who is looking for his new home after finding himself on the streets with his one eyed cat friend as his previous owners had lost their home and could not take him with them. This handsome boy is friendly, affectionate and loves being around people. He is good with other dogs and could possibly live with a calm female. We would prefer to rehome Watson to someone with previous experience with large breeds. As he is still young, he would benefit from further training and socialisation. He can live with children aged 12 years plus.

No matter how lovely he is, though, if we take him on we have to work hard to get him rehomed. I know perfectly well that my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and it is completely out of the question  for me to keep two dogs… but a temporary visitor? I know, it will probably be heartbreaking when he is adopted, but still!

***

Slightly late to the party, I had been waiting for a good patch to start to watch (and read the subtitles of) the new series of The Killing. Not only am I a big fan of nordic noir, but I am also a keen watcher of the outfits of the leading ladies. A couple of days ago I started hearing ripples about the new jumper Sarah Lund is sporting. Here it is;

The chevron effect is unfortunately something I would really not rock, what with my large frontage. DAMMIT. Why is my taste in clothes not commensurate with my figure? POOR ME!!!

For the past three series she has been noted for her uniform of fairisle jumpers. Not something I fancy, since I can feel them itch from here.

Fortnums, Selfridges, and the Rise of the Middle Class

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Monday, November 19, 2012
If you had to get locked in some place (book store, amusement park, etc) overnight alone, where would you choose to be locked in?

Well, my initial reaction to this was to say a department store that stocked good beds. Or any beds, really. And bedding. Ten suggested I might like to be locked in at Fortnum and Masons which featured in a docco we watched yesterday. This is a shop so posh it has it’s own historian. Can you believe that? It’s  a food shop that started life stocking probably mostly imported ingredients for the aristocracy. Nothing *made* because your cook would do that. Or one of your cooks. Oh! a propos of “one of my” you have to click through here to read the David Sedaris story Our Perfect Summer. You will never use or hear the phrase “one of my” ever again without thinking it HILARIOUS.

Anyway, the historian said that this was how Fortnums (first name terms, here) started off, and that you would arrive to be met by a frock coated chap who would guide you round with your list. Everything would be delivered and you would be billed at some future date, so nothing as vulgar as money would be mentioned. Inevitably the middle classes crashed the party, wanting to ape the eating habits of the toffs. However, they, too, would have at least *a* cook, so that didn’t change much except the volume of stuff sold. Things changed on the advent of the first european civil war (as Mao Tse Tung called WW1) when people wanted to send such things as marmalade to soldiers in France. Jars were postponed in favour of tins due to the fragile nature of glass and the less than genteel nature of bombs.

Nowadays you can walk around and pick stuff off the shelves. You can have the same marmalade as the duke of so and so, and you can be the fanciest. I, however, have never been there. The most fancy I have been in terms of food shopping is Selfridges. Selfridges was a trail blazing department store. Not the first in London, I believe that was the Bon Marche in Brixton. Toffs never needed department stores – they inherited their stuff or had it made by the appropriate craftsperson. Department stores were designed specifically for the emergent middle classes who did not have inherited belongings and who also did not know how to put a room together for instance. So the department store set up the little vignettes we are so used to being treated to for an eternity before we get to the shopping bit at Ikea. Gordon Selfridge was an American who had worked in a department store in Chigago and had lots of exciting new ideas about how to give these new shoppers the sort of experience that would make them want to spend money. He was an innovator in display, in the training of salespersons, and Selfridges became one of the first places a woman of status could go to on her own. (As an aside, women could walk around London in the Elizabethan era, but their emancipation was retarded by the Victorian era.)

I used to like Selfridges very much when I had money and energy. I have never even been to Harrods – why go all that way if Selfridges is the best shop you have ever seen?

So although there are probably amazing places a person could be locked into what better really than a department store where you could gorge yourself on fancy food, frolic among the gew gaws and bits and bobs, then cozy up in one of London’s most expensive beds?

Recently there has been a TV show called The Paradise which is about an early department store. It’s actually based on a story by Emile Zola, so entirely fictional in that it is set in the North of England. It’s good enough as costume dramas go, and ‘real’ enough in it’s way, but it would have been so much more interesting to have a dramatization of Gordon Selfridge’s life – I mean, for a man who catered to one of the most uptight group of people to be created in the UK he led a pretty interesting life, including having a scandalous relationship with society twins the Dolly sisters.

So. To summarize. I may not have the best imagination in the world, but I do know a fair bit about the history of the department store.

The End.

***

ETA

Ten was worried about me not having any kind of illustration for this post. It just so happens that I still have my store card from back in the day;

Worm Update, Bra Measurements, and A Cat

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You’ll be worried, by now, about the wellbeing of the tiger worms in their Worm Hilton. Rest assured, I checked up on this morning, and although I don’t know if any of them have moved boxes there do seem to be live worms in all the boxes. I was concerned about using see through boxes, but it doesn’t seem to bother the worms unduly. I wish i could dye them or tag them somehow to see who moves where or not, but these are worms. Not so easy to tag as, birds or mammals. Just as well I am not a scientist and just as well I don’t have OCD, or I might find the raging anarchy of the worm bin situation too much to cope with. As it is, I will be happy to simply see what happens over the next few months.

Since the worms seem to be surviving their non opaque environment I may continue the build.

***

Nextly, in this slow news day, a sunday of mainly bed based internet activities, I can report that although Ten measured me for a bra size the tape was in centimeters and so he has to convert to inches – and then after that he has to work out cup size and all that baloney. Even then, I had to break it to him, different brands will fit differently. A bra fitting lady once told me that say you were a 36D but the shop didn’t have the bra you liked in that size or the size was wrong for you you could MAGICALLY try on a 38C and it might work. Strange business, bras.

If you have been following my tribulations with bra purchasing, you might remember me complaining that M&S were no longer the bra fitters to beat. For some reason most of their bras are now sporting a formed padding which makes your frontage attempt the ‘sweater girl’ profile. When I complained that the bra was uncomfortable, and that one of the cups could easily accommodate a couple of sleeping mice as well as my apparently much smaller than the other one right breast. When I pointed this out she was very rude and more or less insinuated that this perfectly normal state of affairs was in some way my fault. I  felt shamed into buying the awful bra, and then, when I tried it on again at home in perfect misery I realized I would have to take the damn thing back again.

I only want to be COMFORTABLE. Is that really too much to ask?

***

Well, I have spent all day writing this, so I’d better post it before it becomes tomorrow.

Here’s a picture of a cat watching television in bed. What’s not to like?

Dream House, Swans as Pets, and My Current Wants

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Would you buy your dream house if the price was right BUT you also were told it was inhabited by ghosts?

Absobloodylutely! Unless it had the bad feng shui, but then it wouldn’t be my dream house, would it? I’d like a space with lots of south facing windows, lots of heat and light. Low windows, reading nooks with the little day beddy thing in. Fireplaces and stoves. French windows – lots of french windows. Small rooms, big rooms. Rooms with connecting bathrooms, a walk in wardrobe, comfy furniture, space for making art, great views, animals outside and in. Plenty guest rooms, a music room, a viewing room. A room with a huge table and chairs all round for eating and for late night conversations. The forest, the sea side, crashing rock, soft sand… To get this kind of thing at my price, there’s pretty much have to be some deal breaking ghosts on my side.

Oh! And a swimming pool.

***

Since today I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo tired after Bowen, I’m going to cheat the rest of this post. But i will provide quality padding. These photos, for instance;

Quite simply ganked from tumblr wholesale, with the following caption;

A pet swan named Leila being helped into a car where it enjoys a ride to the shops. Its owner Mrs. Watson of Chesham, Buckinghamshire, says that Leila, who has been a family pet for two years, can open doors and is a good guard dog, England, 1936 *

photo by William Vanderson.

What I can add to the party is that Anna Pavlova had a pet swan, Jack. There is no record of whether she took him car rides, though. I doubt it. Taking your swan to the shops seems rather an English thing to do. I cannot imagine Anna Pavlova being that parochial. I could see her taking him somewhere fancy, though.

***

So, my apologies for being a bit *thin* (on paper, if not in life) today. I am quite borked. For some reason I seem to be in rather an acquisitive mood, though. I have been researching the Panache sports bra on the recommendation of my friend @Mockduck who runs. I don’t need ‘sports’ as such but I could use a softish non fancy bra that you don’t have to struggle to get into – and not only does this have back fasteners, but it has a fancy adaptor so you can wear it either scoop or sport back. AND IT COMES IN PINK. yasss! 

The other thing I find myself in lust with is the new Kobo Mini eReader, which is authentically pocketable, not tied to a particular seller (I’m looking at you, Amazon, you conniving greedyguts) and is available for £50. Although I tend to listen to audio books, my eyes are not as bad as they were since I came off Duloxetine, and I have enjoyed reading books when I have been away from home (and for home, read THE INTERNET). Although it was possible to go online the last couple of times I went away, I chose not to take this life with me, but to have a ‘real’ holiday (with small borrows just to check in).

Anyway, I’m not for jumping the gun right now. Tonight is all about chillin’ with my dawgie and watching bits of telly, playing Words With Friends, and listening to radio plays.

Happy rest of friday to you,

e4q

x

Poppet my Pet, a Painting and a Philosopher

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Thursday, November 15, 2012
Tell us about your favourite pet.

Sorry all cats, but Poppet is the best in class. And it’s not just me, either, the INTERNET loves her too! One time I was walking her in London Fields and someone came up to me and asked “Is that Poppet?” because he’d seen her on the internet!

i love you – feel my tongue

Here she is loving up Lahikmajoe during his recent visit from Germany. If you click through you’ll see the blog post where he admits his infidelity to his own dogs. It’s just how it is. Poppet = ALL THE LOVING.

All Dogs Matter, the charity where I adopted Poppet from are co-hosting a photo competition here.

The Kirsty who shall remain mysterious suggested I put this photo in;

I am not entirely convinced it’s her cutest photo though. Not as such.

I must say, though, it always makes me happy.

***

Yesterday I broke two habits – first of all I painted without tidying up first, and secondly I did two of these small pieces in a day!

It’s not that they are so very labour intensive, it’s just that doing any kind of art making is really new for me. I have been a good 6 or 7 years away from doing anything of the sort, and I am rather Bambi about it all. You know, that bit where he is just born and is shaky on his pins.

I am working in a sketch book which I wrote in in 2003. I am using a limited palette, and I think I am being rather influenced by the colours that surround me this autumn on the River Lea.

I expect I will graduate to larger works at some point, but for just now making marks is quite enough to be getting on with.

***

Just listening to an In Our Time about Simone Weil. It seems that a huge part of her philosophy was to do with ‘affliction’ which was partly influenced by her chronic migraines. Not what I expected when I started listening to the show.

A Painting, A Meal, and A Petition

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“Nothing was, nothing will be; everything is, everything has existence and is present.”
— Hermann Hesse (1877–1962, German-Swiss), Siddhartha

Today I broke my routine and just cleared the table and painted. Since I have started this project I have tended to want everything to be ‘just so’ before painting – which mainly means I don’t get on with it. Today, though, was different. I just wanted to paint and I wanted to do it immediately.

I read a biography of the composer Gustav Holst years ago. It was written by his daughter, and one or two things really stayed with me. First of all, rather than get up every day and go work with a gun to his head, Holst had a policy of not writing music until it really irritated him not to.

He also said, when addressing singers “Those of you who can sing, sing, and those of you who can’t, make a glorious noise to god”.

Here, then, is my glorious noise.

***

Back to NaBloPoMo;

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Tell us about the best meal you ever cooked.

I am not a terribly enthusiastic cook. This is partly due to an ambivalence about food, partly due to my own energy levels and partly to do with whoever is around me. I have been an enthusiastic cook when I have been around people who encourage me. The meal I made most often this summer was fried halloumi with sesame seeds, fried pineapple, salad leaves and tomatoes. I tend to be faddy, so if I am cooking for you, the most likely ‘best meal’ is the one I am doing most often at that moment. After a while I forget what made the meal work, and always fail to write down what I have discovered along the way.

***

Meanwhile on the internet, there are moves to make the internet government controlled. The wild west days are over, I guess, but I am fairly sure that a cabal of governments working in secret to control the web is a terribly good idea either. Individual governments haven’t shown themselves to be particularly generous, why would a group who is not answerable to it’s people be any better?


Take action here

We’re all just walking each other home

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We’re all just walking each other home.
— Ram Dass

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

To be brutally honest, I am often brave. Getting through the day with chronic migraine knowing you’ve got it all to go through again and again is far braver than anything else I have ever done, I do it often and I tend to do it alone, without any witness. I appreciate people who really see me suffer because even that experience is ineffable once it is past.

On the other hand, what looks brave might not really be brave. While ordinary acts like leaving the house might take real gumption, I, for instance, rather relish public speaking whenever I get the opportunity. Yes, I was physically ill the first time I gave a lecture, but the buzz is amazing and ‘nerves’ are really the same thing as excitement.

Acts of kindness can feel brave – one does not know in advance how they will be received. I think I was fairly brave to volunteer to visit a senior Buddhist Order Member who had had a stroke – I thought he would quite possibly find me naive and annoying. As it turned out it was a teacher I knew from my earlier days of learning meditation, and I had rather a good rapport with him but I didn’t walk into the hospital knowing it would be him. And I certainly didn’t expect to ‘get’ anything from the experience, but I did. He was an amazing man. While he was teaching there was this one time when he said he couldn’t remember which meditation he should be teaching and he mentioned in passing that this was probably because he had a brain tumor. I didn’t see him for a few weeks, so when I did see him I was relieved that he was alive! I asked about the tumor. He said that he had probably had it for years, but that it had only been recently diagnosed because he’d blacked out and someone thought to look. It seems that when he was younger he found it difficult to read, and was considered rather dim. His story humbled me so much, and heartend me, too. I’d just recovered from several months of near constant brain fog, after my health tanked and I had been signed off from my job. I couldn’t even follow radio or TV programmes, I just had the radio or TV on for company. I had really prized intellect in my former life, and considered my brain to be my best investment. Yet it didn’t save me from becoming ill. I was so relieved to find something I could learn that rather bypassed brain work, and to meet someone so very wise who was intellectually challenged.

When he died he had fallen out of bed. At the head of the bed was the commode that he used. It is entirely possible he spent his terminal moments on this earth with his face on rather a grubby carpet with a view of the underside of his toilet. For some people this would be a very upsetting experience, but I wasn’t in the slightest bit worried for my friend.

At the funeral there was an open coffin. It was the first time I had seen a dead body. I really wanted to get close and have a good stare, but I didn’t dare. A lot of people spoke about how he had been rather a harsh teacher, but that wasn’t my experience of him. To me he was only ever kind. I can only imagine he approached people on a case by case basis. His sister was too upset to attend, but his niece managed to say a few words on her behalf. She spoke about how, one new year’s eve, he had suggested a bike ride – the pair of them rode their bikes into the new year. What a lovely imagination he had, and what a lovely memory for his sister. I sat with the niece after the funeral and we talked for a while. Afterwards I received a letter from the sister, and wrote back as best I could. We wrote back and forth for a short while.

As well as being a sobering experience, spending time with him in his final days was such an honour.

*** 

I was looking for a quote to share with you and found myself collating an enormous collection of them;
elaine4queen.tumblr.com/day/2012/11/13

click through for lots of thoughts from lots of different sources.

***

How many Hindenburgs?

Today is kind of a Category 2 Hindenburg. Last night I realized that if I didn’t take a triptan before I went to sleep I’d be waking up migraining like crazy and have to spend all day dealing with things from that starting point, and that tends to mean I have to tread gently on the next day. Not just that, though, I am extra tired possibly because you can nip the pain in the bud, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are not having the migraine. There’s a lot more to migraine than headache.

So, while I have a little rest and listen to Front Row here’s a picture of Poppet I took yesterday.

she isn’t always entirely elegant