Monday, 28 June 2010


Listen up Ikea, I'm not loving this summer's Pippi Longstocking range of tablewear and accoutrements, you should ask me before going with something as unappealing as red and green stripes. Also, had you run it past me, I'd also have advised against calling a range of pots and pans, 'Skanka', seriously, you all speak English better than many English, you know what you're doing here.

A while ago, I read a book by Sarah Waters, called 'The Little Stranger', it had me hypnotised. So I decided to read another of hers, 'Tipping the Velvet'. One thing I really like about Waters' writing is the quality of it, she is a great writer, but in both cases, she writes in a style that captures the historic period about which she is writing.
'Tipping the Velvet' is set in the late 19th Century and is about a young woman who falls in love with another. Hum, just had to re-type that, since at that point, Whisky plonked his head down on the keyboard. Now Waters herself is a lesbian writer, so it's not like me trying to imagine what it would be like to be in that situation, and so the feelings that the main character Nan has for her lover Kitty, are very honest. What strikes me is how love is portrayed without the socially constructed imbalance between women and men, so that when Nan wants to do everything to please Kitty, it's not because she's debasing herself just to 'get her man'.

Firefox has just updated itself, and it wants to offer me a new persona. I can choose from 30,000 options, and like any secondary school pupil, I spent time actually browsing through them. I couldn't, of course, find any drifting snow, but I settled for Antarctica. I also lost interest by about page seven, so good thing my actual persona doesn't depend on my choosing.

Friday, 25 June 2010


The G8 leaders are gathering in Toronto-ish for the G20 summit. On our news, the camera lovingly caresses President Obama as he runs down the stairs. Canadians are disappointed because Michelle isn't with him. Protesters have a special protesters' area with toilets and running water and a police guard. In spite of this, the protesters are upset about efforts to deter them from disrupting the proceedings. It all starts to look like a Russian doll, or one of those Esher pictures.
Personally, I'd feel safer if Gordon Brown were there, but given that he's not, I would settle for Decameron giving Harper a bit of a tongue lashing.

History in the making. Mainly blokes of course. You could argue that since they made this mess, they can bloody well get us out of it, but I feel a better balance would be more likely to come up with a viable and sustainable solution.

David Mitchell has a few things to say about older history. And he's quite right.

Then there's Spartacus. Sounds like an interesting series huh? We missed it the first time round, but it seems to be available for free on Shaw's 'So you missed it the first time round huh?' channel.

I don't like it when history is mucked around with, but if it's not terribly well documented history, I'm prepared for a little bit of wiggle room.
What I'm not prepared for, is something that has both the same quality of dialogue as an eastern European series circa 'Belle, Sebastian and the Horses', that has been dubbed into English, and the same standard of acting as a very small village's am dram group.

This is a three trick pony. Nudity - nowadays almost exclusively used to distract the viewer from poor writing; blood by the gallon, and that rather evocative camera technique where everything goes into slowmo and then suddenly speeds up.

Occasionally all three are used at the same time.

But yet, the unlikely duo of Lucy Lawless and John Hannah, the hope that at some point, the real story of Spartacus will be followed and the Welsh gladiator will lead his band of muscle-bound Aussies into the hills, thence to challenge Rome, and the current TV scheduling that consists of only two other shows worth watching, 'Lie to Me' and 'True Blood', somehow keep us moving on to the next episode.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....I know, me too, I hated Charles Dickens, although I think I came upon his work at the wrong time. I can't blame reading him at school, I loved the process of literary analysis, those brilliant women who taught us didn't ruin books for me, they made them great.


I have friends and family here who are the best of people, but then there are the people of Springfield.

Now I'm not saying the people of Springfield don't exist back in Blighty, far from it. I believe it was the residents of Leigh Park who turned up with the pitchforks when they learnt there was a Paediatrician living amongst them. I'm not making it up.
The thing is, back home, they are easily recognisable.

The people of Springfield here are not plain-speakers, they don't respond well to criticism, hell, they don't respond at all, they go all tight-lipped, neither acknowledging nor challenging, they are spiteful and back-biting, they skulk and they sulk. They understand neither irony nor wit, nor sarcasm, nor long words. And they are passive-aggressive.
There are people who recognise passive aggression, claiming it to be a national trait, but mostly, those who label themselves in this way, are only so in a normal way, to the extent that any human is.
Others wear it like a poncho.

Just saying is all.

Monday, 21 June 2010


Now you can hardly have failed to notice that language is my thing. (As opposed to my thang). Recently, I've been having a bit of an Oriental problem.

On Sunday, a gentleman informed those around him that it (whatever it was, I can't even remember, but had something to do with the buying of staves), was no longer available because the Orientals had taken it over. Now I can see that that way of putting things is really not on, a bit like referring to 'the gays' or 'the women' or 'the blacks'.
However....last week, I queried someone who said he'd realised he'd written about another person, that he 'enjoyed oriental cookery'. The someone had changed it to 'Asian cookery'. I asked him what he felt was wrong with 'oriental', it is, after all, a rather useful word that simply means eastern. His reply was that it smacked of imperialism and subservience.

Now, this is something that doesn't occur to me, but I know it's an important marker in history here, and a negative one. I suppose we were just taught it as part of world history, it happened, then something else happened. It was given neither a positive nor a negative spin. It just was what it was.

I think it's hard to avoid viewing British imperialism particularly without seeing it as paternal, but then, whilst paternalism itself is outdated, there were certainly positive aspects of it in its time.

Interesting to ponder however.

On the subject of matters parental, it seems that, whilst a couple of major eastern countries have shot themselves in the collective foot by selecting to have boy children, in the west, couples who have been going to clinics that offer choice of a baby's sex to prospective parents, (notice how I use this phrase meaningfully, teaching at secondary school, we used to use it stupidly refer to parents who had children, but may like to send them to our large, inner-city comp) have been opting for girls, in some cases in a ratio of 2 : 1. Later in the article, it mentions a 75% preference for girl children.

I think the hyperbole of the article is both short-sighted and premature, but it certainly looks as though the future could contain either many transcontinental marriages and or many more women joining an ever-expanding sorority.

The implied imperialism of BP is starting to annoy me. It stopped called itself British Petroleum in 1997, largely due to the fact that by then, 40% of the company was owned by American oil company Amocco. And it seems as though this part of the global company is the part that has been drilling in the gulf and has had the misfortune to have accidentally caused the current nightmare.

Now, thinking back to my days as a Head of Department at Mayhem, had my department somehow managed to start an international incident, and believe you me, we had the capacity, I can see that the Headteacher would have taken the flack. But I also think, that at some point, said flack would have been concentrated on me. So it seems a little bit bizarre that Tony Hayward - a man who looks rather like the actor who played Tony Blair in the film 'The Queen' (and also the chief werewolf in something else)- has to stand and show stiff upper lip whilst being roasted over the fire by Obama, head prefect of the main culprit. Still, he has shown he has mettle.

Just a thought really.

Friday, 18 June 2010


I have been practising cruise control. Given that I don't like giving up control over the gears of the car, cruise control has been something I haven't liked the idea of, and yet I need to get used to it. It's scary. It's like someone else is driving the car, but I'm still steering. It does, however, contribute to fuel efficiency, so I have been practising and along the long roads that lead to the border with the States, there has been plenty of opportunity.

The picture is of a Stellar's Jay, sitting in the tree in our garden. Now, Schloss Schneewittchen doesn't actually have a garden, but the trailer we have just bought does. Mobile home, it's a mobile home. And it's very nice. And it's in Whatcom County, Washington State, so we had to brave going further down the I5 the other day to register our ownership and pay our property tax. We're going there this evening - er, to the trailer, not the Courthouse again.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Hot and Wet

I apologise before I say this but I am already fed up with the World Cup. I dunno, somehow, in Britain, it seems you can more easily avoid it, here, not so much.
It's almost as though, because the Canadian men's team didn't qualify, they have to overcompensate, sort of vicarious football victory. Of course, that may very well explain it. There can't be a single country that isn't well represented here.
Canadian women, on t'other hand, are apparently pretty shit hot at the old footie. Let them play I say, let the women get out there and take on the world.

We have had some serious rain, but equally, some serious sun.
Saturday was one of the latter. I was sat in a hot room at the Vancouver School of Theology. This building appears a lot in 'Fringe' and I think it is usually labelled 'Harvard University'. Hmmm...
The workshop, like the curate's egg, was good in parts.
The bus terminus seemed to lack any shade - or in fact any buses to take me back into Vancouver and thus the skytrain, but when one did show up, exodus was swift and painless.

Lie to Me, a wondrous TV series, I have realised wouldn't work in real life, not because there are not really people who can tell instantly whether a person is lying or not, but because everyone behaves too logically. Tim Roth is basically, any Brit, and speaks and behaves like any Brit. The problem is that in real life, outside of Britain, the majority of people don't simply listen to you and respond logically to what you're saying, they go all anal-retentive and block you out.

True Blood is back. The homoerotica seems to be up a notch. I wonder if Russell T. Davis is writing for them.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Dogberry and Dog

How easily we come to expect that all and every piece of information will be instantly available beneath our fingertips. I wanted to show Alex a clip of Adam Faith in the 70s series 'Budgie', saying, 'Leave it out 'aze,' to his wife, Hazel. Could only find three clips of the series in YouTube, and one was just the titles.

My intensive cleaning therapy has recommenced. I have started from the front door and am working inwards. I cleaned the downstairs loo, and then felt very...well, clean. It wasn't that it was truly horrible, just, it was in need of attention. But the rain is working against me, or, the rain and Whisky are in cahoots. Not that Whisky is messing the toilet, but his wet muddy paws are undoing my floor cleaning as it progresses. At some point, I didn't spot that he'd opened the bug screen and was on the balcony undoing my gardening as well. And then the resulting muddy paws and snout managed to take out another section of floor and the bath mat when I took him up to be bathed.

So, yesterday evening, we went to see the first Bard on the Beach play of the season. We saw the dress rehearsal of 'Much Ado About Nothing'. It's one of the less intricate and interesting comedies, one that I seem to remember was performed by the senior girls at school.
The costumes were insanely wonderful, the acting, as ever, good, but the show was stolen by one actor who had one of those 'moving the plot on' bit parts. It was an English actor who played Dogberry, leader of The Watch, and he had the most incredible timing and mastery of physical humour. He also was canny enough to known that there's something intrinsically comedic about a northern accent, or...maybe the accent reinforces the humour. At any rate, this one man, with his small acting part, but huge talent, made the play.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


Dammit, a power cut last night meant I couldn't post this.
Foiled again.

My spuds in my Sleepy spud bags, are growing. They have foliage, or as, someone I know once said as though she seriously thought it was an actual word, foilage.
I have been following the written instructions I was given with the bags, and adding more soil to them. peas have pods. I didn't even notice this until my friend R said that they had been eating their peas, and I thought...hmmm...better go and check.
Tonight we had a salad that contained spinach, lettuce, basil and rocket from the garden.

On the subject of things people say in all seriousness and without a hint of irony, someone at my writers group yesterday was quoting Sarah Palin, as though anything Sarah says has any meaning or relevance outside of her own head. It was bizarre - and confusing, and more than a little worrying.

Although spring isn't yet over, it's that time of year when all the TV programmes come to a grinding halt. And yet, from the ashes of TV scheduling, arise new series of True Blood - coming next week, and Lie to Me, which started last night.
And as series finales go, the last episode in the current series of Glee was pure cheese, apart from one Sue Sylvester. Classic, classic Sue.
And here's some previous classic Sue, 'Sneaky Gays'. Swish it up Sue!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Dead Ears Mate
Wham, jam over.
Contract over.
Playing catch-up.

At the weekend we were down in Birch Bay again, against all odds, and because of course, we hadn't taken the kayaks, the sun shone like it was going out of fashion. Sunday, the rain poured as though THAT now was going out of fashion. Either way. It was relaxing.
One thing we can't take across the border, is dog food, so we always stop at a very nice little supermarket on the way to the park. We bought some Paul Newman dog treats that contained good ingredients, Alex has made me very aware of what is in things. The late Paul Newman apparently has his dog food made in Canada and then shipped to the States so that Canadians, who can't ship it across, can buy it with $US.

Russell Crowe, who plays the eponymous hero in 'Robin Hood' has coined a new catchphrase for our households on both sides of the Atlantic. In this interview with Mark Lawson, he responds to Lawson's question about whether there is a hint of Irish in Crowe's Robin Hood accent, by taking extreme umbridge and telling Lawson, 'You've got dead ears mate, dead ears.' I'm told that Holly (nearly 6) can reproduce Crowe's own accent and outrage very accurately.
Our intention on this side of the Pond, is to use it as a riposte when one of us gets accused of being Australian, but then, in practice, I don't think any of us could be as rude as Russell Crowe.

This morning, our TV news crowed that British paper The Torygraph was reporting that Decameron would be taking fiscal advice from Canada. Yes, it seems that under Chrétien, a hard line policy to cut public spending, turned a severe deficit into a surplus.
Nicely done, Decameron, make it look as though you are trying something new, only....isn't that on page 1 of the idiot's guide to being a Tory? First priority - cut public spending.
A handbook in fact, that our own Canadian Tories could well do with having a gander at. Kevin tells me that in his first term, Harper rapidly turned the Liberals' hard won surplus, into his very own deficit.

Ah the Tories, can't live with them, can't cook 'em up and eat 'em.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Traffic Jam

Holy Carp. Tuesday already. My life is currently a traffic jam, complicated by the rain. In amongst this, Whisky has discovered the joy of shredding everything in sight. No, wrong, he always liked doing that, now he has discovered how to shred things NOT in plain sight.

At the weekend we had friends to stay who have now left to drive across country to Toronto. Alex and Seth went to Seattle and throughout it all - the rain. Every evening this week I have appointments, meetings, things that have to get done.
Things that have been getting me up early and keeping me up late.

Books. A friend of mine who writes herself, says that she never pays for books. I find this hard to justify. I have no objection to passing books on, nor borrowing them, in fact because of those two activities, it evens out, but I want to buy books and I do.
But how to choose them. Often I go on the recommendation of someone I know has similar tastes, or again because I have been lent or given a book. This can be interesting because they may not be ones I would have chosen myself. And there's a book I've been avoiding, even though a couple of people I know and whose book judgement I respect, have read it and enjoyed it. But it received quite the drubbing on the F-Word blog. Recently, I found the exact opposite view on another feminist blog, so now I've bitten the bullet and have to make my own mind up. I'm reading 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'.
What? You thought I was going to say 'Wind in the Willows'?