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28 November 2015 @ 05:47 pm
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a well-organised cupboard holds more than a cupboard into which things have been crammed at random and that you worry about opening the door of in anticipation of Stuff falling out. After a certain amount of work this afternoon my airing cupboard is now much tidier. Only the rest of the house to go before Tuesday's inspection by the agent. Tomorrow I get to clean the oven, oh joy, oh rapture. I wouldn't normally, but since I am specifically going to get them to get the oven door fixed so it doesn't require the strength of ten (pure hearts optional) to open, I should at least make a gesture in that direction.

A domestic weekend is much cheered by the return of the cross-country skiing world cup. Winner of the hardcore stakes must be Aino-Kaisa* Saarinen, who at four months pregnant is just looking for motivation for training rather than victory, but still - 1.30 min off the leader is pretty impressive. This year has no Olympics and no World Championships, so several of the older skiers have taken the opportunity to have a baby before returning to the WC next year as a lead in to another Olympics. As I am not hardcore, my achievement of the opening ski weekend*** is some significant ironing. I have a couple of quilt covers lined up for tomorrow.

I seem to have failed to write fic today. These things happen. Tomorrow!

*I love the name Aino-Kaisa. My hypothetical daughter is lucky she doesn't exist. Mind you, if my hypothetical daughter did exist, the many terrible names** I might give her would be the least of her problems compared to having me as a mother. As I put it once, "I would be fine as an upper-class Victorian father."

**The great thing about not wanting children is that the list of potential baby names is not bounded by fairness towards a real person.

***Except for those Norwegian races I watched a fortnight ago.

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* It is week 7 at work, which is really week 8 because we have a week 0. The building water supply is contaminated with Serious Germs. The taps are taped up. We can use the toilets + anti-bacterial hand gel (no, thank you) or go to another building. Not next door, they've now got the same problem... What joy it is. On the plus side, my unexpected last hour of the day yesterday spent getting running round trying to arrange things to get someone whose visa'd passport had been stolen back into the country this lunchtime ended up working, so that was good. Since this person wasn't actually one of our employees, I am expecting a small box of chocolates to turn up in return. Mostly, though, my work thoughts are occupied in hoping to avoid Intestinal Doom, for which the incubation period is now extended.

* Is this a mid-life crisis? I appear to re-visiting my teenage years. The vampire musical watching turned into re-reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and that was all very well (I still hate Lestat, a man who deserves to be murdered many times over, and since he is a vampire, can be), but then at the weekend I bought a pair of trousers, and… There is nothing wrong with these trousers. They are excellent trousers and I shall wear them on Christmas day and for going to the theatre when I can’t be bothered with a dress and so on, which is what I bought them for. They are black with that sort of damask effect that is about at the moment, and they fit nicely and suit me well.

It’s just that I realised when trying them on again at home that I could cosplay a vampire count in them. Especially when added to the black blouse with big sleeves and beads on it (Laura Ashley late 90s) and dark red velvet waistcoat (Dorothy Perkins mid 90s) that lurk at the bottom of a suitcase in case I find myself needing a random fancy dress costume. At least I don't own a Dracula wig.

* Speaking of clothing... Does your suit jacket constrict your movements when you want to leap mighty buildings in a single bound, exercise your licence to kill while drinking a martini, dance cheek to cheek, or merely play the violin? A high armscye is the answer! I suspect that it also contributes to why Peter Wimsey can't pick up a napkin with a couple of broken ribs. On a more mundane level, you can see this effect in action on your non-Savile Row clothes by comparing e.g. the greater arm-movement you get in a tight leather jacket compared to an elasticated T-shirt with low arm-holes.

* In a fortnight's time I shall be on annual leave for Christmas! This is both good and bad... There is quite a lot to do before Christmas. I am suffering from tree indecision. After my last real tree bit the dust after 2014, failing to survive the next year, I resolved I would buy an artificial one, which is really more convenient when you're going to be away from home for nearly a fortnight. And yet I have not done so. The problem is, the artificial ones don't smell. I did the artful bunch of painted twigs last year, that isn't the same, either.

* The OTW seems to be making a fascinating hash of things.

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18 November 2015 @ 07:59 pm
Apparently I have managed to leave both my Kindle and my glasses at work. So tonight's entertainment is definitely going to writing.

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16 November 2015 @ 08:58 pm
Walking between Oxford Street on Piccadilly on Saturday because I couldn't face the thought of hopping on the tube, I found myself passing a window giving on to a large space with a shark in it. Specifically, a dead shark in a tank. My keen mind swiftly perceived that it was (a) some sort of art exhibition, and (b) despite having no name, opening hours, or general indications of welcome, it was open to the public. I went in. Or rather, I pushed fruitlessly at the door and then the doorman let me in.

It turned out, as a woman hastened over with a leaflet, perhaps in case I was considerably richer than I looked, to be this exhibition: The Big Blue. AKA art influenced by the sea. And it was - OK. There was a Picasso, that I wasn't really fussed about, and a very good Bacon, and a Courbet that was not conducive to the idea of a nice paddle even to one who spent childhood holidays on the Yorkshire coast, but frankly it was all about the shark.

The shark - was a pickled shark. I will admit not to knowing a great deal about contemporary art. I like some, dislike others. It seems to me that shark 1 (The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living) is exciting because of the idea, and I think that it is a good idea. Weird, yes, but interesting. But when what is exciting is the idea, repeating the idea is not exciting. If picked shark 1 is art, pickled shark 2 seems to me essentially an anatomy exhibit. Anatomy exhibits can be interesting; I enjoy spending a rainy lunchtime looking at jars of dead sea creatures in the natural history museum. But they don't really feel like art.

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15 November 2015 @ 07:24 pm
* It is half-way through November! This means that I need to come up with a Christmas-and-birthday list for the family pronto (it is mostly written), and also that it is halfway through [community profile] picowrimo. Results so far: finished and posted My True Love Has My Heart (AKA the bodyswap fic), and 3100 words on the eternal WIP. The latter was actually done in 4 days, but this proved unsustainable, and indeed contributed to the lack today because I ended up doing paid work on account of my failure to do what I had meant to when working from home on Friday on account of severe knackeredness. Moderation in all things, even Wimseyfic...

But I am determined to push on with the Potterverse crossover Wimseyfic come what may, and not let it drop. It cannot by allowed to slip again and for me to realise, as this time, that eleven months have passed without my really doing anything on it. Not least because I want to do some actually original work.

* For high quality entertainment I recommend informing a friend who enjoys the Vorkosigan books of the plot summary of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. The facial expression and bemused murmurings of "No? No!" of a friend endeavouring to process yesterday, over afternoon tea, that I was not having her on, will stay with me for some time. As she left determined to write a fic that I liked the sound of a lot, I can even say that something positive came out of it for her as well.

* I found myself walking past, and then going into, this exhibition yesterday, containing a - but not the - Damien Hirst pickled shark. Verdict, interesting but not inspiring, with the Bacon and Couret by far the best.

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10 November 2015 @ 11:31 am
I failed to see Spectre at the weekend because when I looked at the cinema website to check the times I discovered something called Addicted to Sheep, a documentary about a year on a tenant farm in Upper Teesdale. On the grounds that I could not possibly be a person who confronted with the opportunity to see something called Addicted to Sheep set nearly in the Yorkshire Dales, but much bleaker, turned it down in favour of James Bond, I went.

The film was utterly charming, largely on account of the family at the centre of it, farmers Tom and Kay Hutchinson and their three children, who were terrific at engaging with the camera, thoughtful, good at explaining things, and caring but not sentimental about their animals. Sheep farming as a tenant farmer looks incredibly hard work, not helped by the ambition of the average sheep to die as soon as possible. The Hutchinsons’ enthusiasm for the perfect Swaledale is both passion and economic necessity – competing with the big companies is impossible in terms of quantity, but quality can just about make a small scale operation viable. The film didn’t cover it, but they also farm cattle with the same approach.

Here’s the trailer:

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03 November 2015 @ 07:49 am
At last! The bodyswap fic is complete, and so with no further ado...

On A03: My True Love Has My Heart. And, because it is too long for a single LJ post, on Dreamwidth.

Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey have triumphantly solved the Wilvercombe murder, and only want to return to London. But first they must solve a new mystery: why they have woken up in one another's bodies, and what on earth are they going to do about it?
02 November 2015 @ 07:05 pm
Did you ever look at a saucepan of broccoli and think "What that needs is some cream"? Me neither. And yet my pot of extra-thick double cream from Sainsbury's has a picture on the lid of broccoli covered in what is presumably cream.

I can only imagine that this is an attempt to make extra-thick double cream healthy by association by presenting some sort of "broccoli cheese" dish as one of one's five-a-day. If so, it is a complete failure, and only serves to make cream disgusting by association. I like cream. I like broccoli. I am willing to stand up for the pleasant taste and the health-giving properties of each. But broccoli and cream can only be an abomination.

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31 October 2015 @ 09:09 am
There was a one (to five) sentence Halloween horror thread on [community profile] fail_fandomanon, so I had a go.


Bunter stopped on the threshold and saw that his lordship was not alone in his bedroom after all, but kneeling pyjama-clad at the feet of a woman, a woman with the stench of the grave on her, a prisoner's uniform, and a noose around her neck. Beside him one of his collection of incunabula lay open in a circle of what looked like blood.

'Harriet, it worked! Will you marry me?'

His voice was filled with joy.

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27 October 2015 @ 08:19 pm
I beguiled some of my journey home from Edinburgh yesterday thinking that perhaps I would write a couple of short fics in new fandoms for Yuletide treats. Then I got home, checked the fandom nominations list, and found that they weren't in it. Damn. C'est la vie, I shall write them anyway. At some point. Or perhaps I should see if any of the Wimsey letters are inspiring: that Bunter/Saint-George won't write itself.

But first, November and [community profile] picowrimo. I am setting a target of 10,000 words, which is not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things, but if I can do it, it will move things on.

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