3rd november 2003


. . . from morn
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
A summer's day; and with the setting sun
Dropped from the zenith like a falling star,
On Lemnos, th' Aegean isle.

Paradise Lost, Book l

The pain was immense, like an army inside him filling his whole space. When its tide ebbed slightly, he became aware that he was among trees, lying on roots and pine needles. The sea was not far off. There was an iron bench, paint peeling. He very much wanted to sit on it, but at that moment this was not possible.
Later he found himself seated there, the pain having become a trusted acquaintance, and could look out from the little park to where the lights of squid boats were moving out to sea. He realised that the air was full of the scent of night-blooming flowers; moths were whirling round the streetlamps.
When he could walk, he started to move to find a house or inn: there would be a bowl of yogurt perhaps, and some warm bread. He wondered whether there would be wine here.

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4th november 2003

in a wilderness of bears

Forget not, when the rest is wholly done
and all her splendours opened one by one
to add that she likes Henry,
for reasons unknown, and fate has bound them fast
one to another in linkages that last
and that are fair to see.

from Dream Song 171

One tends to forget, regarding Berryman, that often the glass is half full rather than spilt.

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5th november 2003

breakfast three times a day

The Dutchwoman at work was telling us how after three years in the UK she's finally got used to British food.
- All except for that one thing. That thing with the baked beans, when they put them on top of the toast.

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7th november 2003

- Doctor, Doctor, I think I'm a moth.

- Hmm, this sounds more psychiatric than medical. There's a psychiatrist right next door, why didn't you go to him?

- You had the light on.

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9th november 2003

getting through it

My mother I can recall perfectly. Her face was always red and sore-looking from bending at the fire; she spent her life making tea to pass the time and singing snatches of old songs to pass the meantime.

- Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman

It is thus that Finn spends the day: a third of the day watching the boys: three fifties of boys has he at play in his ballyard; a third of the day drinking sack; and a third of the day in the calm sorcery of chess.

- Flann O'Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds

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12th november 2003


Horrible, isn't it. But I made it anyway. And now I'm posting it anyway.

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13th november 2003

the physical impossibility of the weblog entry in the mind of someone living

I sometimes feel that I have nothing to say and I want to communicate this.

- Damien Hirst

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18th november 2003


At dusk he came to the long bay that lies in perpetual shadow between the mountains. Deep in the bay some early lights were shining where a group of houses huddled together.
No one was out in the rain.
It was here that the Hemulen, Mymble and Gaffsie lived, and under every roof lived someone who had decided to stay put, people who wanted to stay indoors. Snufkin crept past their backyards, keeping in the shadows, and he was as quiet as he could be because he didn't want to talk to a soul. Big houses and little houses all very close to each other, some were joined together and shared the same gutters and the same dustbins, looked in at each other's windows, and smelt their food. The chimneys and high tables and the drain-pipes, and below the well-worn paths leading from door to door. Snufkin walked quickly and silently and thought: oh all you houses, how I hate you!

- from Tove Jansson, Moominvalley in November

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19th november 2003

saloop survival

In the Spring I mentioned saloop in London, now an extinct item, but it's exciting to find out that it's still around in Turkey and Australia (and who knows, even Turkish joints in London? must investigate).
In the old Istanbul days I was totally unaware of it - it would have been a great thing to buy on the early morning Bosphorus ferries (commend to me cities with an active water-life!) - but it's nice to see that what was a London fad is an old and ongoing tradition in the Levant.

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21st november 2003

no honour

He [J. Farmer] said that his grandfather, who could remember one hundred and twenty-five years before this, told him that they used to catch wolves in what is now Carter's pasture by the North River (east of Dodge's Brook) in this manner: They piled up logs, cob-house fashion, beginning with a large base, eight or ten feet square, and narrowing successively each tier, so as to make steps for the wolves to the top, say ten feet high. Then they put a dead sheep within. A wolf soon found it in the night, sat down outside and howled till he called his comrades to him, and then they ascended step by step and jumped down within; but when they had done they could not get out again. They always found one of the wolves dead, and supposed that he was punished for betraying the others into this trap.

A man in Brighton, whom he fully believes, told him that he built a bower near a dead horse and placed himself within to shoot crows. One crow took his station as sentinel on the top of the tree, and thirty or forty alighted upon the horse. He fired and killed seven or eight, but the rest, instead of minding him, immediately flew to their sentinel and pecked him to pieces before his eyes.
Also Mr. Joseph Clark told him that, as he was going along the road, he cast a stick over the wall and hit some crows in a field, whereupon they flew directly at their sentinel on an apple tree and beat and buffeted him away to the woods as far as he could see.

- Thoreau, Journal November 1855

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24th november 2003

another illusion shattered

I had always thought that the word beep, or possibly bleep, was coined to describe the sounds produced by Sputnik 1 (hear here), launched in 1957.
Now, looking at the OED, I see they give first or early usages thus:

beep:   Did you ever hear them talk about auto-horns? There's a toot-toot, and a beep-beep. 1929 E. Wilson, I Thought of Daisy.

bleep:  The bleeps of Geiger counters make 'penny stocks' on the country's exchanges palpitate into investors' bonanzas. 1953 N.Y. Herald-Tribune.

And the meaning of sputnik, usually given as 'fellow-traveller'? One who travels, a travelnik.

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25th november 2003

your houses


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27th november 2003

tutt' il due

In Fellini's La Strada, we empathize with Gelsomina because of her naivety, her vulnerability and her sufferings at the hands of the big bad world.
Well, you lot do, anyway.  Me, it's because in the cafĂ©, when she's asked whether she wants pasta or stew, she says, "Both."

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