Sunday, March 27, 2011
Mr Life is on Facebook. He's not a keen Facebooker; in fact he has only 6 "friends": our children, our son-in-law, our son-in-law's brother and a chap in our church. When we were all sitting round after lunch, he read from our son-in-law's brother's page: It's a lovely sunny day, just right for mending the toilet with a hangover.
"I wonder," remarked our son-in-law, "how the toilet got a hangover."
Nephew: Cambridge University. Son-in-law: Oxford University. They pick only the best and brightest.
Later I came across this 1902 film of a journey to the moon. It takes 10 minutes but it's quite diverting. Sorry I can't do the wee tv screen thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JDaOOw0MEE
Well, that's the weekend over again. Hope you had a good one. Back to work.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
You can see why Elizabeth Barrett might have leapt from her sofa when he appeared.
Yes... Don't think I'm going to leave my body sitting around too near this chap. Luckily I wouldn't often describe myself as poised.
* I think I meant first paragraph but you might think I'd know the difference between a sentence and a paragraph, wouldn't you? It was late at night. I was rushing. And stuff.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I got our computer services team on to the problem.
The solution was found today.
I hadn't noticed, but my nice computer chap did, that it's Study Section 5 that causes the problem. Students put the title of the Robert Browning poem they're studying - "Porphyria's Lover" - as the subject of the email. And our spam filter has taken to deleting the email, thinking I'm being offered naughty stuff.
Problem solved. From now on, we'll be referring electronically to "Porphyria's Bloke".
Monday, March 21, 2011
(oh, must write down how to do that linky thing) said that she thought that a picture is worth a thousand words.
I don't really agree. Yes, there are some things that are better seen than described. A rose, for example. A baby. A house, maybe, especially if one's planning to buy it. But not a person, definitely not a person.
We have photos of various ancestors - great-grandparents and the odd great-great grandparent. And it's lovely and interesting and intriguing to have them. But they don't really tell us much. I'd so much rather have their words. Words give a far better impression of the person, don't you think? I have only one piece of writing from my father's father - who died a few months before I was born. It's a letter that he sent to my grandmother, his future wife, saying that he hoped to see her again. I have not a scrap of writing from that grandmother. I have two plates from her wedding china but that's it. (And quite a lot of her genes, I suppose. I look a bit like her.) I do have a few letters written to me by my other grandparents and they give at least a flavour of their personalities.
But I feel I know a lot about Samuel Pepys and Anne Frank and Nella Last and Virginia Woolf and lots of other people whose diaries I've read, and about Philip Larkin and Noel Coward and all the Mitford sisters and Joyce Grenfell and lots of other people whose letters I've read.
And then there are blogs, of course. Our children and grandchildren, if the blogs survive, will know a huge amount about us and our lives. And what an archive for historians - if our journals don't disappear when we do, or shortly thereafter.
What do you think? Words or pictures? If you could only have one of them?
Sunday, March 20, 2011
She was a doctor and he was a pharmacist and they spent their working lives in a hospital in Pakistan. But as well as this, they preached Christianity to the Pakistanis, which now seems rather… . Well, they did what they did with the best of intentions, I’m sure. My uncle was also quite a scholar and published learned commentaries on various Bible texts.
When we moved my aunt out of her flat into the home last August, we found lots of photograph albums. I’ve been gradually taking them to her room in the home. She and my uncle travelled a lot, both from their base in Pakistan and during their furlough years. And, happily for the current circumstances, they were very good at labelling their albums, so that I often look at them with her and can say, “Oh look, this is Baghdad – you went there in 1947” and she can agree.
One album that I haven’t taken there yet is actually a notebook, a sort of diary kept by my uncle and illustrated by photos and postcards. There’s nothing intensely personal in it; it’s mainly just an account of their travels and other activities during a few years at the beginning of their marriage. But I never knew it existed and am touched to read it. I never knew my uncle particularly well - we never saw all that much of them because they were so involved with the Brethren. He was quite fun, but not someone who was interested in children. And of course they were abroad throughout my childhood and young adulthood.
Here’s the first page:
The Wedding 24th February 1945
The place: St Philip’s Church, Joppa
Time: 2.15 pm on a dull, cold day
Officiating: Rev. J. E. Adam and A. Hutchison, Craigmillar
Guests: [and he lists them]
Best man: John [his brother] Bridesmaids: Effie and Gracie
Organist: Jim [my father]
We arranged for a taxi for Jean but it didn’t arrive so walked to church [it’s only a couple of streets from where my grandparents lived]. The wedding went smoothly. Thence to photographers – photos turned out pitiful. The guests went by special tram to Darling’s Hotel, Regent Place. A splendid occasion – speeches by Uncle Tom, Uncle Andrew, Wm Campbell, Jean’s father and Reg as well as the two ministers. Finally the singing of Psalm 23 and some choruses suggested by Mother brought the proceedings to an end. A delightful and very happy occasion.
Then we went by train to Glasgow. Taxi, in a most tempestuous storm of rain and wind, to Mayfair. At Mearns next morning Mrs Connell announced us as a honeymoon couple. Lunch at John Smith’s. His mother vastly amused at honeymoon couple.
But it was a very happy marriage.
I feel a bit odd having this notebook but there's no one else closer to them and though I shall take it in to read to my aunt, I don't know how much it will mean to her. I wouldn't like it to get lost so I suppose I'll bring it back here again. The ink's a bit faded so I shall type out the rest of the words to preserve them. The last entry is July 15, 1947.
I do like having this link to my uncle.
Words. There's nothing like them. As we bloggers know.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
But I think I might have managed a bit more coherence than these two students:
1. As this is a very important scene and it happens very shortly after the first scene ends we need to realise the impact that the first scene had on the significant part of the first scene.
2. The setting down by the river through John Steinbeck’s structure of the way it’s written from you imaging somewhere beautiful with lush green fresh hills to the orange flicker of the last of the days sun reflecting of the water to feeling bleek lonely no life like nothing has no colour just a grey matter. It’s the same place but due to the excellence way in which its written excuceded and procented it doesn’t feel like the same place at all.
I think I need to read these again.
(No. Didn't really help.)
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
It would probably make E E Cummings cry, too, since he called himself e e cummings and didn't really go for capital letters or punctuation. But I put it as our "Poem of the Week" on the noticeboard at work (and heavens, it's hard enough to persuade our students to use punctuation without poets giving them dangerous ideas) so I "improved" it (sorry, e e). This is that version.
I CARRY YOUR HEART by E. E. Cummings
I carry your heart with me. (I carry it in
My heart.) I am never without it. (Anywhere
I go, you go, my dear; and whatever is done
By only me is your doing, my darling.)
No fate (for you are my fate, my sweet). I want
No world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
And it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
And whatever a sun will always sing is you.
Here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
And the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
Higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.
I carry your heart. (I carry it in my heart.)
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
These people have done it to themselves through self-loafing.
They use food to fill the cracks in their brains.
That second sentence is a bit disturbing... though in fact quite apt. Maybe he was thinking of the cracks in one's heart.... no, I think that's worse. Shudder.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
I left work early today to go home and tackle the marking mountain. First, I popped into the supermarket to buy Dreamies, the cats’ rather expensive little treats. I’d been to the other supermarket yesterday and there were none. Shock! Horror! I don’t know what’s in Dreamies but the cats adore them.
I also needed fruit.
However, since the alternative was to go home and do my marking, I had a little wander round the supermarket after buying the fruit and the Dreamies. It was earlier than usual so I felt relaxed, which I wouldn’t be once I’d started the marking.
So by the time I left the supermarket, I’d bought:
1) A plastic mini-greenhouse – only £20! What a bargain, and I’ll really use it if the weather ever improves (it’s very cold and windy today and the mini-greenhouse would blow away).
2) Two lamps – because one of the dining room lamps has gone phut and I don’t want two non-matching ones, do I?
3) Bubble bath – because a bubbly bath is essential at the end of a long day.
4) A plastic colander to replace the one I melted the other week. (The saucepan that I melted it into wasn’t improved, either.)
5) A packet of mung beans, for sprouting. Protein, you know.
6) A set of three ducks for the bath. I hope that the expected grandson will like them. Or is this hopelessly old-fashioned? Will he want a waterproof computer game?
7) Letter trays and a magazine holder for my desk, which is constantly trying to become chaotic.
8) Loo rolls, for obvious reasons
9) Two bunches of daffodils because it's spring (brr!) and they were half price
Total cost: £61.42.
I told you that Dreamies were expensive.
And I clearly had to share all this with you before starting my marking. But I'm off to begin it now... though I might have to make some soup first. It really is very cold here.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
She's coming up to Edinburgh again at the weekend to search out a wedding dress. This time we're trying dressmakers. Keep your fingers crossed for us.
I've just been watching some of her actor fiancé's friends on a tv improvisation programme. I imagine that some of them will be coming to the wedding, which I find rather alarming. They're all very witty and smart and poor Mr Life's going to have to make a speech in front of them.
I felt very unsmart this morning when I was standing at the bus stop, replying to a text from Daughter 2. (This is my new phone - I decided that I needed one with a camera in preparation for being a granny in July. All my granny friends show people phone photos of their grandoffspring. I mentioned one Friday evening to Mr Life that I was thinking in terms of a cameraphone, and the next morning at 9 we were in a phone shop. Mr Life likes gadgets.
I can't really claim to have mastered this device. I can manage texts (though don't know how to delete them) and can phone people, though haven't yet got used to the doorbell-like burble that it gives when people are phoning me. Indeed, I tend to ignore it, merely wishing that whoever owns that phone would hurry up and answer it. Then I realise that it's mine.)
Back to the bus stop. Mid-text, I must have touched a wrong button and Radio 4 started bellowing out of the phone at me. I kept frantically pressing things, without result. I continued to regale the bus queue with the "Today" programme. Eventually I had to ask a young man if he knew how to stop it. He did.
I warned you that I didn't have anything to say. Still, it's a nice picture of Daughter 2, don't you think? How I miss her.
Sunday, March 06, 2011
This is a major source of mockery and grief in the city since some bright spark decided a few years ago that we should bring trams back. No one I've ever met wants them; it's cost umpty-tum millions; the streets have been hugely dug-up; the companies doing it have run out of money/gone into dispute/whatever and the whole thing has ground to a halt. We have a few tram rails but no trams.
We hadn't heard about the chap above, but evidently he's been excavated in the course of the works. Son inspected him in a doctorly way (too late for emergency procedures, I fear). A passerby peered over Son's shoulder. "Aye," he pronounced gloomily. "Poor man was probably waiting for a tram."
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
We do have kind friends and neighbours who would pop in and feed them if necessary but I'd rather have live-in sitters.
So - this has worked before so I thought I'd ask again, on the off-chance - would any of my bloggy friends or their friends or family be interested in a free week's holiday in Edinburgh? The only duties would be to dish the meaty chunks out to our furry friends from time to time and, ideally, to shut them in at night and let them out in the morning. They have a (close-able) cat flap.
We would like to go mid-week to mid-week (I realise this might be tricky) because our destination is my non-confused aunt's house in Norfolk and our beloved Daughter 2 would be able to pop down from London for the weekend. The dates we're thinking of are Wednesday 13 - Wednesday 20 April, though as long as we're there over the weekend Friday 15 - Monday 18, this could vary.
Anyway - I know it's not very likely but I thought I'd ask. Our house is in a quiet cul-de-sac, with parking in our driveway, about two minutes from buses into town. It takes the bus about 10 minutes in the non-rush hour to get to the centre. Or you can walk - it's about two and a half miles. There are various beds and chairs and so on.
The weather might be nice at Easter. Or it might not...