Friday, October 31, 2008

Hallelujah by Brigyn: a Christmas Number One?

Tom Robinson has just suggested that the now approved for release cover by Brigyn of Cohen's classic Hallelujah would make a lovely number one record in the UK (hell, I'd say everywhere).

Yep, seconded!

You can catch a listen to Haleliwia on Brigyn's MySpace page. Lovely, lovely! Let's campaign!

Update: Thanks to Ed's link (from comments) I've had chance to see Brigyn performing Haleliwia. Lovely!

Extra Update: catch a Radio 2 programme 'The Fourth, The Fifth, The Minor Fall' on this most beloved of songs on Radio 2 tonight [1 Nov 2008] and on Listen Again for the next seven days -- if we're in luck...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Life, the universe and beyond

Work's overloaded.

Cat is poorly.

A New Doctor in 2010.

I want to be excited about the last one, but in the context of my current week I only feel melancholy.

So long, it's been good to know you...

Women's pay

Hat tip to EineKleine Rob for this excellent redirection.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

In the name of friendship... I give her David Tennant

David Tennant's autograph on my friend's Hamlet programme
A signed programme from David Tennant for my friend's birthday. Sure, she would have liked actual David Tennant but I felt getting that was pushing it a bit - even my witchy powers don't extend that far - but hey, for a little humiliation and pleading, I'm more than happy to obtain this for her. [I have got the lovely Helen's permission to post this here: though I have been squeeing all day since yesterday morning]

HL has her birthday next week, and though she proclaimed she was 'not bothered' about not having got something signed at the stage door last week, I knew at heart she was a little sad inside [the unexpressed term 'gutted' would probably cover it].

So, throwing caution to the wind I took my last shreds of dignity and organised the deed (no laughing at the back: I'm maintaining the myth that I had some dignity before doing this whatever you may say).

When I got the package back it was definitely a case of cue SQUEE!

I confess I did do a big dancing jig in my nightwear, screeching to the ceiling 'thank you!!', before plotting how I could oh so casually drop this around to H's.

I went for the classic 'dropping your birthday card off early' technique [since our Stratford trip had effectively been our presents to each other]. I put the card into a carrier-bag, carefully making sure that it covered the centre of the programme where the signature was written. I passed the bag on, mentioning as calmly as I could 'there's your card, and I think that also belongs to you' before turning away silently squeeing in advance of her response. I sensed her puzzlement. Pause.

Squeal: 'oh MY GOD!! - how did you... what did you do?!'*

Needless to say, she's a bit chuffed. And so am I on her behalf. Is it wrong to feel self-indulgently virtuous?!

* Cloud said I should have said 'David stayed over and I got him to sign it before he left this morning'. Hurrumph. Honestly, the things my boy says to me...

Following blogs

I have Bloglines as my main RSS feed and alert to blogs - though I'm erratic at best regarding who is on it and who gets read on their actual blog - but this new-fangled Blog Followers thing is now fuddling me.

How do I add myself as a follower? And can I only do this for those who have moved to the new template thingie? It's all baffling.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bellowhead - part of the Derby Traditional Music and Arts Festival 24 October 2008

Bellowhead in Derby

The buzz on Bellowhead has reached us perhaps late compared to many, but my word what a band to see live!

We caught some last minute tickets for their performance as part of the Derby Traditional Music and Arts Festival (on this weekend and back next year at my birthday weekend). So in advance of them we caught the fun of formation folk dancing (believe me we watched from the sidelines rather than joining in as we know what our dancing skills are like!) but it was clear many had come to see them specifically.

The audience was broadranging - from 60s down to under 10s - and all were swept under the magic of this spell-binding 11 piece collective. You have to admire a band that can accommodate pop posturings (the image of the string section playing off each other in various poses will have me giggling for a long while), funk influences (really, funk played by strings and horns in a folk-stylee has to be seen/heard to be believed), and even reggae... total madness with kazoos and everything.

Here's some cracking pictures of Bellowhead from various gigs and I will aim to add a couple of my own over the weekend.

It's also worth checking out the individual band members - many very active in lots of other projects - and like many events it's irksome to be reminded of how much we have missed in recent weeks (with both Faustus and Spiers and Boden in Nottingham recently Grr).

PS Can I just add that Jon Boden is a very compelling frontman and had the audience eating out of his hand. He also reminded me of an American Studies Professor I know who has a similar degree of intensity in his glare. Very odd. It may also be to do with the dark suit thing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blogger updated template

Does anyone know how to rid Blogger of the hammer and sickle 'being edited' symbols AKA the screwdriver and spanner symbols?

Or are they now a permanent feature? Cos it makes it look like my page is never quite fully ready for readers...

Anyway, the pages now have the shiny new gadget of an in action blogroll. If you post, a taster will appear here. I've not added everyone to the list at present so if you're not on there and you're updating, let me know. Likewise if you want to come off my list, then do so!

I'm also not sure about the followers business? What's that about?!

Yet another Norm profile of one of the blogroll friends

I'm beginning to lose track of all those who've had profiles over at Norm's (or indeed elsewhere - e.g. Mars Hill). Anyway, yet another illustrious companion in blogging has been given a Norm slot so speed you to read Wongablog's contribution.

Blog profiles so far from amongst those whose blogs I read (add yourself to the comments list if I have missed you!):

Hak Mao

And do keep in mind that time has passed on since some of these were written: some favoured blogs are now deceased, or things have moved on but they're still a good overview of our interests.

Belated congrats and welcome to the Inveresk offspring

Congratulations to Darren and Kara (blimey, I remember them getting hitched!). They are now proud parents to Owen Eugene Youngs-O'Neil.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Oh this too, too solid flesh did melt...: Hamlet - RSC 18 October 2008

Helen had already had her fun with seeing this a month ago, but was well up for seeing this again, her most favourite of Shakespeare plays (she's seen it around 10 times now, with we think 7 different versions/actors in the role). For me, it was a virginal visit: my first Hamlet on stage (though not radio/audio/film). Beat that next version.

After the heart-pounding activity surrounding our visits to LLL, Hamlet was a bonus in a way that couldn't have seemed possible before the weekend. But it WAS our focus and our prime reason for coming for all that LLL had offered such delights. Hamlet is undeniably one of the most brilliant works of writing ever.

We took our seats on the front row of the circle, to the left side of the stage and befriended an older couple from Lichfield who engaged in banter with us in spite of easily spotting that we were there for Mr Tennant (they were delighted to say they had seen him performing there several times before he garnered the rock star status he now experiences). The audience also had further visitors with Robert Hardy and Jeremy Paxman as just the two we spotted in the audience.

Saturday - Hamlet - the play
This is undeniably a brilliantly dark humoured Hamlet, full of madness, stark wit, and glinting wit coursing through the production thanks to Tennant's natural ability to access and stir laughter with one raised eyebrow and flashing delivery of text. But it remains the tragedy we know it to be and the cast are, as with LLL, fabulous each and every one.

The production is atmospheric despite or because of the simplicity of the set (mostly stark dark marbled floor and mirrors). The torches at the start make brilliant use of this, and are easily appreciated from higher up than stalls level. There's also plenty of noise - the ghost scenes are especially terrifying, with lighting to pick out the reverberation of lines. And it's a pacey performance: edited for sure but with attentiveness to the overall impact so that you would scarce miss the lines cut save for those folk who know each line by heart from full-length versions or if you have a particular one lost in this production.

I stifled tears as ever at Ophelia's descent into madness and her truly tragic death - a speech I know too well from my long love for Pre-Raphaelite art, and marvelled at the way Rozencrantz and Guildenstern were brought to life (hot on the heels of seeing both actors as the other two companions of the King along with Berowne added an extra layer to their 'false friends' performances). Polonius, played as a distracted, over-thinking observer of court life, was masterfully brought to stage by the ever wonderful Oliver Ford Davies (who does this type of thing so well), but to pick on performances almost seems unfair when such overall brilliance is achieved. The play was certainly breathtaking, causing gasps at its playfulness and inventive take on this most well-known of texts.

And as Anna noted, for someone whom so many had come to see on stage, Tennant magnificently captures the gauche, heart-wounded grief of Hamlet from his first moments on stage - paralysed in almost unnoticed watchfulness for the horror of seeing the speedy progression of time from his father's death to his uncle's ascension. From this frozen beginning to his early breakdown on stage, through his delivery of the all the most well-known soliloquies which are informed with equal measure of tenderness and sharpness, this Hamlet is nevertheless caught in his actions: he is unable to stop the consequences of his 'madness'. Tragedy for himself yes, but more for others.

By the call at the end, most of us were on our feet and the applause was deafening when Tennant came on his own on stage - he clearly relishes this sort of acting challenge and the reaction he garners. And who can blame him?!

Highlights (everyone): Penny Dowd's Downie's* clothing (God, her wardrobe is stunning) and her utterly focused final actions as Gertrude; a brilliant Horatio; every scene with the ghost; everything coming together as a beauteous whole.

Highlights (Tennant): the perfect delivery of "country matters"; and sorry, but to echo Rosby's admission of his handsomeness, can I just say dear God, that arse. It will be a long time before my brain even wants to let go of the haunting appeal of his lower back and the red underwear. [Note, this was a bonus of being on that particular side of the stage. God, it was almost distracting].

A good weekend? Hell, yeah.

* apologies for name erros. I was rather exhausted by the time I was trying to write this and things got away from me.

By heaven, I do love...: Love's Labour's Lost - RSC Stratford 17/18 October 2008

Rullsenberg in Stratford 2008
Lisa in Stratford: proof we did walk and wander the place more than the theatre environs.

Dear God, where to begin?

Friday 17 October
9am I'm in the hairdressers.  I've had no breakfast - time and high anxiety preventing me from consuming anything.  The hairdressers ply me with tea and biscuits all morning as I sit have redlights added to my usual colouring. I come out with some very red sections and a heightened sense of excitement.

Post-lunch, HL and I depart for Stratford.  By and large the sun is up, skies are clear and bright.  I hope for fine weather and a healthy David Tennant.  Anything else is bonus.

Friday - Love's Labour's Lost - the play
We arrive and eat - sortof - and sit outside in the chilling air.  We take our stalls seats in row K to the side of the stage near an aisle and immediately befriend the four people in front of us.  The company of fellow fans, mother and daughter, wife and tolerant husband, takes some beating in situations like this so there is much giggling, and aptly, bawdy humour from us all.

The setting is simple and well used - basically, a tree.  The humour, as mentioned above, is naughty - sometimes very naughty indeed (dairy churning).  And you can't help feel Shakespeare would approve of this production, and not just because of the impressive Elizabethean costumes.  There are a LOT of opportunities for audience reaction, with far more applause between scenes, even within scenes, than is usually allowed or encouraged - at least in the UK theatre.  And there is also interaction.  To be on either side of the stage in the front row (around seat 5-8) is to take your life in your hands, male or female, as there are couple of key moments where you will be gestured to as evidence for Berowne's dialogue.

Of course, it was inevitable that at least one of us would lose it at some point: cue, on one re-entry to the stage by Tennant, an exceptionally audible whimper from the row in front of us.  (I chuckled inwardly, grateful that it wasn't me).  Sure, the doublet and hose doesn't do the lanky physique of Tennant many favours (bulking his hips shortens him in a way that scarce seems possible), but there's a rather fetching moment when he unfastens the ribbons of his top to demonstrate his being "sick at heart" which probably caused a fair amount of drooling.  And his wit, his gait, his bewitching eyes are only overcome in beauty by the - for me - sheer delight in hearing his native accent.  Forsooth, I did swoon.

As Jane Henry indicated though, this is a lovely ensemble piece - albeit that Tennant as Berowne has the greatest number of lines.  There are fine performances from all: with Joe Dixon's hysterical turn as Don Armado capturing special attention and Edward Bennett's widening eyes perfectly conveying the haplessly heart-struck King of Navarre.  Nina Sosanya is, of course, stunningly beautiful, but this is such an attractive production in every sense.  And then there is the language: it is almost breathtakingly fast in its pace of verbal play and sparring.  Keeping up, understanding all of the puns, the rhymes, the Latin, would be hard work for most modern audiences - but rather brilliantly we mostly keep up thanks to gestures, subtle movement of eyes, and intonation guiding us to interpretation.

Having said that though, the timings got well lost on Friday night thanks to extended giggling both on and off-stage: scheduled to be 2 hours 45 mins in the programme including a break, even the website admits to 2 hours 55 mins and Friday ran well over 3 hours (my estimate is to 3 hours 5 mins).  It never dragged. By the bleak, unresolved ending the audience had been enchanted and moved to all emotions.  The handling of the moment on which the narrative turns from action and bawdy humour to dark news happens in the blink of an eye [and even second time around, aware it was coming it was hard to see how the figure arrives on stage].  And with a magical captivating final scene, the delight of the audience for the applause was palpable.

Highlights (everyone): Don Armado's clothes and florid communication; the music and dancing (brilliant choreography); the language, the language, the language.

Highlights (Tennant): Berowne throwing his hat towards a tree branch (didn't make it, shrugged with that keen wit and nonchalance Tennant masters so perfectly) - more on that with the review of our second viewing of the play; the King, Berowne, Longaville and Dumaine in and around the tree - and especially Berowne's critique of hypocrisy and subsequent being 'busted' by his three companions; and the declarations of love.  *swoon*

Friday - Love's Labour's Lost - after the play
You have to understand that for years, long-time friend HL has been unable to break her habits to do 'the stage door'.  The nearest she got was once when I had ran up past the Lyric Theatre stage door to talk to Dougie Henshall and she later appeared on my shoulder as he and I exchanged conversation (she scared me half to death).  But she has usually backed away, regardless of my careless devil-may-care actions.

Not this night.  No, she was determined to break her duck and despite heels she scuttled out as the theatre emptied and was running - yes running - towards the stage door.  Of course, as previous visitors will well know, smart people do the show and do the stage door as a separate event, bagging their spot the instant the barriers go up well before the end of the performance. Thus, although we were swift, the crowd was already three-four deep and there was no hope of getting to the front to speak properly or get an autograph.  Especially with Helen being far shorter than I.  Damn it though, I wasn't going to let that stop us attempting.  Not quite thinking straight, especially once he galloped out - all lanky of frame and smiles - I stuck with making my long arms work overtime to have a half chance of a signing whilst H, bless her despite being unable to see a thing (though she swooned at just hearing him) gamely pointed and clicked her camera in the general direction.

With heart pounding, I kept my arm thrust out - more in hope than in expectation that my programme would get signed.  So when his hands reached up and mid-air balance on my own copy wavered with the weight of his signing, I couldn't help but gasp and say "thank you so much for this!" His reply, "It's a pleasure, thank you for coming", with a smile and eyes darting to capture more programmes for signing, was enough to sate my determination.  And I delighted when he dropped suddenly to his haunches to talk to a young girl - Amy - and charmingly made her day with his brief words before wishing a happy birthday (I think also to her) and then, with a wave he was gone.  As others have reported, he's inevitably brief in his time - hell, he could easily spend more time signing than performing.  But oh, to be able to say we had done it.

We glided back to the b&b, high on adrenaline and fiercesome in punching the air with glee SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Not the best pic took of me and my programme but by far the one where I look least awful.

Saturday - Love's Labour's Lost - the play
If souls are to be bought and sold, then ours are in hock forever.  No matter.  For the first time, contacts were approached and against the odds can also attend the Saturday matinee.  It's bright sunny day and we are in fine humour as we once collide with two of those from the previous night and chat before the show.  We have good stalls seats just in from an aisle.  Again, we easily befriended those around us: the two girls to our left asking if we were David Tennant fans (to which we unconvincingly lied in high mocking tones before falling into giggles), and best of all a trio of female family relations behind us - mum, daughter and grand-daughter.  Aged just seven, with ted in tow, she keenly passes admiration for my stripes and we quickly strike up fond conversation with the family including this smart-as-button girl (she was already reading Shakespeare and was well versed in the plays and play-going in a way that was admirable to the point of being breathtaking).  Course, she was also keen to point out she 'loved David Tennant' in tones of swooning adoration that only just beat our more adult intonations.

And then, just a couple of minutes before the play began, the final seat on their row behind us was filled: by Patrick Stewart.  Cue gulps, gasps, and resolute attempts to not embarrass ourselves (though the grandmother managed to exchange a few remarks despite her own giddy delight in this bonus encounter).  It was certainly interesting to hear his laughter amongst ours during the performance - and hear the reports back of his attentive listening to the overflowingly playful language.

Anyway, at second indulgence, knowing the play far better now it sparkled with extra lightness and the different location meant we saw things previously missed (I'd only half read it before attending Friday's performance - and since our young friend behind us had got as far as that this didn't make me feel as if I had got as far as I should!).  Hysterically, the early hat throwing scene was successful this time around which garnered extra applause before he inevitably blew it by mischievously shrugging and saying 'every time' to which there was further laughter and vehement giggling cries from me and Helen L of 'liar!" [which we later thought were frightening liable to be reported back by Patrick Stewart: oops].

Delightfully, our young friend was more than wonderful company for the play - not only did she laugh with vivid pleasure (though heaven knows that she would be a good few years yet to get all the jokes we hoped!) but she also easily expressed the wonderment that the play presents with the lanterns used in the final scenes, and the swooping owl, garnering special gasps of enchantment.  A very special occasion.

Saturday - Love's Labour's Lost - after the play
During the interval, we had gotten into further conversations with our new friends behind us and suggested that, hot on my observations of the previous night regarding Amy, our smart seven year old should go to the stage door (despite her already having been in receipt of a signed programme from DT by postal request). Knowing that, however much we might want to, the likely chance of getting something signed for H - let alone the legions of friends we knew to be in high lust for something - was doomed unless we could magically get a place at the door AND attend the play, this plan now became my mission. I wanted this to work for our young companion for a million reasons but mostly because I knew it was do-able. For who would refuse a child to squeeze between and take up some of their hard-fought-for barrier space?

Despite swift movement, I didn't manage to move quick enough to catch Mr Stewart as he left the stalls (Caroline - I'm sorry!) but we moved at pace toward the stage door and again hit row 3-4 in the barrier pile-up.  When our small friend arrived at the stage door scrum, clutching ted and programme, I ignored the mini grumbles that had greeted any adult attempts to force a way in nearer the front and shouted up "there's a small girl here who would really like to get to the front".  And as expected she was duly wheedled past even the most stubborn of fixed feet to the barrier.  Task one complete.  As David came round, he again expressed his astonishment at there being so many of us there - though it was remarkably good humoured and without shoving (which has marred some signings).  But as he worked his way round - gawd how I wished I had been able to get to the front - I realised he must have by-passed our young friend since she would scarcely have reached the height of the barrier.  

I wasn't having that: "there's a young girl right down at the front" I yelled and he immediately dropped to his haunches again.  I could have punched the air with glee as I exchanged grins with her grandmother.  

We had had brief hopes that the Friday gang who HAD bagged front spots may be able to get something for H, but with regulation one signing per person this fell by the wayside (David was really apologetic and if I had brains I'd have yelled up 'but it's for someone who can't reach the front!' - damn. Still, with me now on camera duty, I was able to shoot higher angled shots, thus bagging this gem.

Still, whatever delight we got from our photos, when our young friend emerged, eyes glassy with delight, clutching her programme neatly signed and smiling, our pleasure was replete.  When we asked what he had said, she paused and with perfect dramatic flourish zipped her mouth and replied "I'm not saying!" (We joked that she may be on a promise for 10 years time).  Hugs and thanks were exchanged and photos shown to each other.  Could the experience have been bettered?  Under the circumstances, scarcely.

For pretty much the first time all weekend, we went to eat a proper meal before Hamlet.

UPDATE 22 October - Ta Persephone! There's a link to a video from Saturday afternoon, and yes, the first voice shouting up is me...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Book Review: Company of Liars - Karen Maitland

I first spotted this book when at the Lowdham Book Festival this summer. It caught my eye but, as we were already laden, it stayed behind. Left, but not forgotten.

After a terrifically embarrassing turn at Blackwell's Oxford the other weekend (yes, I really was the person who says 'it had an X cover and was about Y'), Cloud did a rather more focused internet search using our recollection that it had been on the back table of publications at the Lowdham Book Festival -- meaning it was by one of the appearing authors. And I did remember it was about the plague.

This pinned down Karen Maitland's novel 'Company of Liars' and it was promptly added to my birthday pressies.

I finished reading it last night and have to say it was a breathtaking read (albeit a whopping 576 pages). Set in 1348 - it is subtitled 'A Novel of the Plague' - Company of Liars presents a fascinating collection of characters, bound together by circumstance and travelling through pestilence ravaged England in pursuit of safety, refuge, home and solace. Liars all, their secrets are uncovered as the novel progresses and we are drawn into their desperate attempts to outrun their lies and the who/what that will uncover their secrets.

Our guide through the narrative is (a) camelot, a relic seller (there is a neat glossary at the end) whose sharp observations nevertheless hide lies. Its a complete page-turner, full of rich historical detail and characters - even the ones you dislike are portrayed as rounded figures.

There's murder and dark humour abounding in the text. And its a handsome hardback book as well. Well worth paying full price for a thoroughly enthralling read.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Book Review: Strictly Love by Julia Williams

Confession time:

1) I don't watch Strictly Come Dancing (sure, I may catch a bit on occasion, but I'm NO devotee). I know that is virtually sacrilege but there it is.

2) As most of you will know, Cloud and I share four left feet and the dancing skills of untrained elephants.

3) I recently won a copy of Julia Williams's Strictly Love via the wonderful MediumRob's competition thanks to recounting the efforts Cloud nevertheless made to inject some romantic dancing into our lives.

4) The genre of 'romantic fiction' really only exists on my bookshelves in the most broad sense.

But, here's the thing. I love reading. I devour books. If I'm on a roll I can gallop through a book in a sitting (pace 'Love is a mix tape' last week - NB I cried through a good bit of it). And I'm especially partial to romance and interwoven lives come autumn months (sure there is a psychological reason for that)

So I was REALLY excited to get a copy of Julia's book and really looking forward to reading it.

I had the annual meeting with my former Wolverhampton students and colleagues (much fun: the plan is for a cultural, theatre-based trip to the RSC at Stratford next summer. There was a bit of envious muttering about me going twice next weekend but I brushed past it...). So I knew I would have a good couple of hours of trains there and back to sit with the iPod and read.

I finished the book about 15 mins before arriving back in Nottm.

It was LOVELY.

The interweaving of the four key characters' narratives pulls you in easily. They're convincing as people, despite the artificial setting of celebrity law-suits and publicity scandals (come on, that's not where most of us live but that's fiction, right???). It's in the little details that convictions come completely to life - the repression, the public personas, the ambivalent emotions about family and self-expectations. There is real forethought and acute observation in the constructions of these figures and their actions. And that's before we get to the dancing which reads vividly as the lived experience of someone who has gone through learning to dance.

Still, as a resolutely non-maternal type, I did feel my heart sink a little at the early screaming body clock scene. And though I understood that the characters may well react as they did to finding certain secrets, there was a bit of this liberal heart of mine that sank at certain expressions. But in the former, the issue of body clocks seemed to be dropped very quickly, almost undermined at some points - and regardless of your status as a parent I defy you to not be moved by the handling of parental love and bonds which Julia writes so well. And however my liberal heart may have felt at first, tolerance and balance do emerge to temper the sharpness of responses and stereotypes in a nevertheless realistic fashion.

So all in all, a bravo. I really enjoyed reading this and its rekindled my love of the broadest definitions of 'romantic fiction' - both contemporary and historical. I think I'll be indulging some more over the coming weeks.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Don't forget the Fleet Foxes tickets offer! These could be yours if you want them!

Contact me for details as per the original post offering these for Friday 31 October 2008 in Birmingham.

UPDATE - They've hopefully reached their new home.

Neil Gaiman's Mr Hero

I picked up from Booklover in my trip to Oxford the first 6 issues of Mr Hero: The Newmatic Man - a comic by Neil Gaiman.

I've devoured the first few issues already so am now biting to get the next bag of issues from the store! Hope I can get them!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Two Fleet Foxes tickets available for Friday 31 October in Birmingham, at Custard Factory

Due to a variety of complicated reasons, and despite efforts to distribute already, we find ourselves in possession of TWO tickets for Fleet Foxes that we cannot use.

DATE: Friday October 31st 2008
LOCATION: Custard Factory, Birmingham, England UK
COST TO YOU: negotiable, but we'll mostly be glad to have them used by someone


Please email me.

Cross-posted on Music is Our Hot Hot Sex

UPDATE: the tickets have hopefully reached their new user

In Praise of 'Place of Execution (ITV drama starring Juliet Stevenson and Greg Wise)

Just brilliant: what a fantastic set of performances Place of Execution gave us and what a compelling story.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Things that have been happening over this week

No, not the obvious political and economic things (though we have been laughing heartily at the expected - and indeed actually stated - "Oh Despair!" of our esteemed pal Nick Matthews at Mandy's in Cabinet part III). These are more the everyday, conversational things that by and large occupy the mind of this blog:

Like Wongablog hitting FIVE years of blogging service to the public: my that's impressive!

Like it being 'Buy a Friend a Book Week' (found via Wongablog!)

Like Marie's pean to not heckling at comedy gigs and, by extension, not talking throughout music performances

Like the animated video for the Elements Song by the god of satirical song Tom Lehrer (found via lovely EineKleine Rob)

Like the forthcoming - okay, it's a long time till it comes but - focus on Science Fiction on the BBC Radio

And trying to sort out getting my pictures from my camera to my computer now that I can't find the discs to allow me to connect to a mac after using it on a PC. Grrr....

Well done George on your marathon run!

Moniker provider George (see sidebar explanation on how I became known as Lisa Rullsenberg) has not long finished the Loch Ness marathon in a smidgeon over 4 hours.

Well done George - and he's raised £320 via justgiving for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Lovely day out in Oxford

Would it surprise you to find out we bought some books?

Us neither.

  • Joseph Connolly - Winter Breaks

  • Jonathan Riley - Routledge Guide to Mill on Liberty

  • Stephen D Tansey - Politics The Basics (2nd edition)

  • Jim Stanford - Economics for Everyone

  • Mark Thomas - Belching out the Evil

  • Bryan Caplan - The Myth of the Rational Voter

  • Joel Best - Stat-Spotting

  • Nicholson Baker - Human Smoke

  • Eric Rauchney - A Short Introduction to the Great Depression and the New Deal

  • Studying Economics - Brian Atkinson and Susan Johns

  • Colin Hay - Political Analysis: A Critical Introduction
You may spot from this list an interest in economics and economic theory. It's worth saying that Cloud has been thinking about doing an external MA on this topic for some time but is currently settling for trying to do some preparatory reading.

  • Some Doctor Who magazines from the lovely store - Booklover. [Silly reading but fun reading.]

  • Neil Gaiman's Mr Hero (issues 1-6) - also from Booklover. [I'll take a punt to keep small shops like this in business]

  • Deborah E Barker and Ivo Kamps (eds) - Shakespeare and Gender [I'm in a Shakespeare mood - wonder why?]

  • R Burt and L Boose (eds) - Shakespeare the Movie II [Told ya I was in a Shakespeare mood]

  • Hermione Lee - Body Parts [I remain interested in reading about life writing despite the long drag of not having yet transformed the PhD into book form myself. Sigh.]

  • Punctuation Personified [fascimile from the Bodleian Library]

  • Susan Cooper - Silver on the Tree [I read this, indeed the whole series, as a child. As this copy had the cover I remembered so vividly I couldn't help but succumb to buying it]

  • Cornelia Funke - Inkheart [I was intrigued by the forthcoming movie, but more by reading about the premise of the book. Can't believe I hadn't read this already!]

  • Nicola Barker - Darkmans [Shortlisted last year for the Booker, but probably receiving the most negative press due to its length, I was convinced to get this by our friend Sue]
Plus, when we got home, Cloud finally tracked down the name and author of a book I had seen at the Lowdham book festival but had resisted buying (we'd bought over 10 books already by this point so had endeavoured to stop ourselves). So I have Karen Maitland's Company of Liars coming soon.

Still, aside from rampant book purchasing, we did do something new: go up the Sheldonian Cupola. The theatre is being refurbished but the cupola is still open to look out over Oxford.

[Our photos to follow]

Once home, we settled in and downloaded Merlin (great entertainment) and then read whilst listening to Steve Reich recordings. I finished The Book Thief and Cloud got me tissues when he copped me with tears streaming down my face by the end. "I cried too" he said, understandingly.

Friday, October 03, 2008


Its been that sort of week - sorry folks. Workshops all full a fortnight before they run; drop-in sessions seeing 13 students in a row; visiting other sites of campuses; everyone knackered; freshers flu everywhere.

And poor Cloud had a birthday in the middle of it all (yesterday).

Happy birthday G for tomorrow; I will be teaching on my birthday next week.

Upside: 9 more working days till I get a day off.

And you know what that means.