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17 March 2016 @ 07:43 pm
Something I hate: Birds singing at 5am and waking me up at a time at which I can't get back to sleep. Shut you, you feathered bastards! See also babies, bells, and muezzins.

Something I love: Books! I am not a book collector, though I like to treat mine gently, but love the contents. Have a second one for contrast, being in beautiful outdoor places. It is amazing to stand someone with a stunning view and look at it.

Somewhere I've been: I won't say "Birmingham" because I promoted its joys recently. More excitingly, therefore, Bukhara. Here is UNESCO on the subject. It is beautiful and fascinating, and as UNESCO put it is notable not simply for individual historic buildings, but for its survival as a townscape that gives a sense of the urban structure. Avicenna was born near there, the Emirate survived until 1920 (though it had been a Russian protectorate for several decades before then), and it has a surprisingly good Italian restaurant. It used to have a substantial Jewish population, but Soviet rule was not kind, and the majority emigrated once this became possible. My boss, who lived in Jerusalem in the late 80s/early 90s, when many people moved to there, told me that they were easily recognisable by their gold-veneered teeth, a widespread Uzbek fashion.

Somewhere I'd like to go: Bolivia. It has volcanoes, the Altiplano, ruins, and I've never been to South America. That's a good start.

Someone I know: my mother and middle sister. It is a good letter!

A film I like: Babette's Feast. How the hell a recent Guardian review could give this only 4/5 stars I can't imagine. This 1987 film directed by Gabriel Axel is cinematic perfection. It was shown on BBC2 and my father taped, and it became a family favourite, to the extent that a couple of years ago we recreated the dinner. It isn't simply charming; it is profound and beautiful.

It is also responsible for a moment of classroom triumph on my part, when we were watching it in the Danish class before Christmas, with Danish subtitles, and during the General's speech the woman next to me whispered "What on earth is he saying?" to which I responded "Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace shall kiss one another." I was not, of course, that good after one term - I had realised very early in the film that I had seen it so often that I could remember pretty much all of the English subtitles. I did confess afterwards.

Have the trailer:

If you would like a letter to do this, comment away!

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