Friday poll: feeling my age this morning

My brain keeps waking me up earlier and earlier. I can't really blame the cat. I happily sleep through her shenanigans when they happen at 3am, but BOOM 6am and I am awake. 5am yesterday, which is just shocking, no excuse for that, aging brain! Also, what about about my knees, which have recently begun twingeing when I am going downstairs. What's that about knees? Is is (gasp) age? It could be!

Well, Christmas is the perfect time to look back in envy at your past self. Admire the hair and the simpler life of your earlier self. Dream of a world where the Apprentice Christmas Special not only didn't exist, but no-one would have believed that such a thing could exist, ever. Sure, the food choices were more limited and clothes were less comfortable, and there was no Minecraft. But it had its good moments! Like that year we lopped branches off the Lelandii in the back garden to use as Christmas decorations and discovered they were full of hibernating Shield Bugs - wasn't that fun?

Poll #1991933 Nostalgie de la boue

I feel my age

Going upstairs
Going downstairs
Going to work
At work
In my lady's chamber
Contemplating the length of American series box sets
Trying to read in dim light
Doing DIY
Doing housework
At another time which I will say below

The time I feel my age most of all is:

The thing I miss most from last century is:

People not being able to get me on the phone
Top of the Pops
Cheaper cinema tickets, shorter films, no 3D
Having time to do stuff/working shorter hours
Palm pilots
A life free of reality TV
Not needing a social media strategy
Another thing which I will say below

It's just not the same, since they go rid of....

What were you doing for Christmas 15 years ago?

The same thing I do every Christmas, Pinky
No idea
I guess ... not watching Dr Who? Probably?
Shopping for millenium pants
Visiting family, as always
Avoiding family, as always
Bad things happened
Good things happened
Things happened
There was probably turkey

Last Christmas....

As ever, if you want to share memories of other Christmases past, explain in detail why I should not have used radio buttons in question 3, have a hilarious story about getting old, or want to take issue with the subject matter, Christmas or age in general, go to the comments.

Happy Friday all!

the fairy lights are on the chameleon....

Na Vecne Casy!
the glittering tree of the future will last another year, Lidl is full of cut-price leibkuchen and the cat it full of love for the body warmth of all humanity. Now, if only I could take a break. Alas, this is not going to happen yet, there are a veritable avalanche of tasks between now and Christmas. However, I have a great idea for cake, so I need to get all of the tasks done, so that I can make cake. Then, it will be time for Christmas.

But Spriggy's got his bling on:

spriggy's got bling!

cassette #2 is UNOBTANIUM

It only took two tapes and a trip back in time to the early 90s to find me a cassette that I cannot replace. In this case, the dulcet tones of Jan Allain and the sweet cello of Ilse de Ziah, combined into somewhat saucy, somewhat soulful, altogether fun, er, anchorage folk, if you know what I mean, including a track that is something of an anthem for ladies who like BIG BOOTS.

I think my big boots at the time were purple wax-leather desert boots, or maybe it was later, when I had the denim Doc Martens?Collapse )

Art & Commerce

I went to the Turner Prize. There's a nice moment on the way in where you might be suddenly faced by a video including adult themes the moment you walk in (we were - thankyou James Richards) and a lovely bright room in the middle of all the gloomy video art that looks like someone took the concept of 90s copy-art and gave it a tidy, professional gloss (cheers Ciara Phillips). My tip for the winner is Duncan Campbell, whose decision to submit a 54 min video means that only the judges and a few fans and students will get the "full impact" (which apparently did include some interesting bits, but not while we were in the room).

To recover we went into the Dissatisfied Women in Western Art room and tried to imagine what they were all saying. Alas, Augustus Leopold Egg's distasteful fallen woman series punctured our ironic distance so effectively and completely that it was enough for the day. Tate Britain. Sometimes it's a wonderland full of upturned jets, whispering chandeliers and insane sculpture mazes. Others it's like being bopped repeatedly on the nose with a rolled up copy of Country Life by an elderly art master who is still cross that they let girls into public schools.

We also did Oxford Street Christmas (smallbeasts introduced me to the concept many moons ago and it has stuck ever since) where Selfridges was dispiriting and Debenhams dull, but we did finally track down Christmas hiding upstairs in John Lewis. As usual, the thing I really wanted (a really simple brass chrome pyramidical Christmas Tree, like a sculptural reduction of Christmas) was actually a shop fitting. Never mind. I know what Christmas looks like now, and that's all I need to make it happen.

Friday question (if you've stuck with me thus far) - what will your Christmas look like?

La Roux at the O2 / racking the wine

It's been a bit of a bitty weekend although highlights included my car actually starting (after last week's battery shenanigans), Harlequin kitten deciding that lap is the place to be (considering the state of the outside world) (cold wet and miserable) and playing Ice Floe over at zengineer's (fun, though I stuffed up and left an explorer on an iceberg surrounded by polar bears and with nothing in her rucksack), and all day breakfast in the evening at Beetroot cafe on Cowley Road, which and offered a really good build-your-own breakfast, which lead me to a very tasty combo of bacon, egg, mushrooms, spinach, and halloumi. Toast included.

Saturday main event: La Roux at the O2

I'd been a bit nervous about seeing La Roux in case she didn't live up live to the promise of unearthly, freakish glamour she projects while standing in the middle of videos or stuffing up interviews. I need not have worried. Bowie bags, a huge wave of improbably immobile hair and a voice that sounds like it should be introduced by David Attenborough ("you may not think at first that this is a human singing"). She sang from a net of lasers, strapped on a guitar and rocked out on the monitors, and took a brief break to look at a picture of a La Roux lookalike contest one of her fans had brought to show her. The crowd were lovely. The band were lovely. Even the drummer who looked like Michael Portillo in his heyday, if Michael Portillo had been a drummer in an electro band, was lovely. I would also like to draw attention to the keyboard's hat. Her playing was (oh everyone on stage was) exquisite, of course, and the songs all had new live arrangements which were wonderful, and I could even buy a La Roux paper doll to take home, but you just have to keep on coming back to a hat like that:

La Roux La Roux
La Roux la roux standee

Also noble mention to Meanwhile, who started off with a nice slice of louche electro with some classy vocal acrobatics. The bassist was swigging a bottle of wine onstage but vocals was having none of it. And an all-ages gig, so home in time to curl up with the cat in front of Agents of SHEILD. Win.

Sunday main event: racking the wine

Doing this as a one man job is fiddly, though in the usual way I'd just about got the knack of turning the tap with one free thumb by the time I was done. I was a bit slow to get the wine off the gross lees, so we might have a problem, but the flavour is still holding. The colour looks a touch darker, but I think it'll still clean out to Barbie pink.

racked wine gross lees
top-up-juice blossom/autumn leaves

The Kilner jar was not a great success as a fermenting vessel, and nor was the little sloe gin bottle. The jar was too wide and flat, leaving the wine too in contact with the lees, and the bottle was reasonable proportions but too small for the Turkey baster to pull out the last centimetre of wine from the lees (in the end I used a drinking straw) (fairly ineffectively). What I really needed, I realised, was another Jura bottle. Because that's just right for holding the top-up wine (needed because the demijohn loses volume with each racking), and the bottle's wide enough for the baster. Alas, the one in the cupboard is still really quite full.

That last shot is something to look out for this autumn; some trees are re-blossoming even as their leaves are changing colour and falling. Look out for that, it's unusual, but this year the conditions have been just right.
monument destroyer
Half term treat for timscience and I was heading up to Liverpool for something that wasn't quite OMD performing Dazzle Ships in an actual Dazzle Ship, but pretty damn close. The Dazzle Ship (in dry dock, dazzled by a modern artist, commemorating WW1) was doing brief visits throughout the day. You descended into the engine room, were sound-and-visioned by an OMD orchestrated installation, and then left, up the laddersteps. OMD were performing in the snow-white curvy modernity of the Museum of Liverpool. There was also a short film programme curated by OMD about dazzle and camouflage, with chameleons, octopuses and masses of Dazzle Ships. Included the brilliant (and sadly unexplained) line: "This new technology is really exciting. We literally made the cat disappear."

Below: Dazzle Ships Clovember, into the Dazzle Ship, Flock of Seagulls Lambanana and OMD.

Dress to Dazzle boarding!
flock of seagulls OMD!!!!

Oh, and t__m__i, you should get the organ (and I still can't comment on your journal or send you a message).

clearing out the cupboard

The time had come. The time is now. It is time. The old pre-recorded VHS must go (well, all bar a few pieces of unobtainium). Sadly, this includes my slowly and painfully collected run of Blakes 7. Look at them! There's a single copy from an early release which must have been picked up second hand somewhere (the old Cult Exchange Shop in Notting Hill, maybe?) and the rest are the slightly swanky re-releases with the line-up spines. It stands out like a temporary false tooth. I watched the original series insofar as I could - between cricket and snooker there were always things we missed. Then I watched it through properly with uitlander on her ?Betamax editions. Then my own, presumably at a party, although I don't recall it in any detail. The Sapphire and Steel Party I remember! Everyone dressed up. Damian and I were Diamond and Gold - or was it Titanium and Brass? Another pub I'd happily go to.

end of an era

There was another surprise in the cupboard, too: my old audio tape collection, taped into a case marked "Hewlett Packard Personal Productivity Center" with big yellow storage tape, the sure sign that a case has not been opened since the last move. These, I would like to listen to as they start their slow arc into the wheelie bin, as I have a 45 minute walk built into most days. But alas my walkman (complete with owl drawn on it in tippex, thank you my seventeen year old self) has long gone the way of all flesh. Does anyone have a portable cassette player I can borrow?

obsolete media!

I'm not expecting there will be anything on them I want to keep. Maybe a little scrap of Annie Nightingale on her brief and whited-out-of-history stint on Radio Luxembourg, or someone reading a story. Maybe the comps that people made for me. It's my experience that you save these things for the main subject, but end up cherishing what turns up in the background.

owltober : not enough owls

Hurray! For Autumnwatch is back. Apparently this year there has been a Barn Owl Bonanza, so lots of incredibly cute HD infrared images of teenaged barn owls tumbling around a rooftop and gulping voles, lots of photos of supersized Barn Owl families, and lots of ecstatic noises from anyone who likes Barn Owls (that's everyone then).

Elsewhere, the owl has been superceded in fashion by other beasts this autumn (I've seen a lot of foxes and bunnies) so my owltober haul is weak, although these Matalan cookies jars are fairly fine:

Reminder to self: cookie jars belong to a hypothetical world where biscuits linger and are not instantly eaten. This is not your world, and therefore you do not need a cookie jar.

Video arising from conversation last night: there is sound art in a Youth & Community Arts Shop (pay attention - this is the future of the High Street) in Bicester consisting of things hanging from the ceiling (carrots, coins, crumpled tin-foil, conducting putty) which trigger noises when you touch them. My favourite is a carrot that triggers a thunderstorm, but here's the tour:

If you do decide to go to Bicester to see it (it's up for the next couple of weeks) be sure to use the magic multistorey carpark that automatically records your car on the way in and charges you accordingly on the way out, and visit Sainsburys for a ride on their travelators. BOOM TOWN!

Harlequin cat is at the vet today, having her teeth cleaned. It's just one indignity after another for her this week. In her absence the house is strangely quiet, without cat. Strange noises now need an investigation, instead of a shrug and an assumption of kitten. Maybe that bang at the catflap is a dream...

Ah, marsh cam live is telling me that I can just about see an otter lying in the grass. Are you sure that looks like a rock?

recurring dream : the bookshop stairs

Sunflower head
I dreamt about the small black kitten again last night. He was there yesterday, too, fluffy and urchinish, in the same place on the stairs at the bookshop (would the world not be a better place if all bookshops had a bookshop cat?). This time I'd gone to the bookshop after I'd been spooked by a pale man in a trenchcoat and a fedora. He hadn't been obviously following me, but us humans are really good at spotting focussed attention and after I'd ducked out of one shop and into another and he was still there I was certain and quickened my pace. But there was the kitten, and I picked him up and as I was fussing him I stole a sneaky glance at the pale man. He had a kindly demeanour; he looked like he had been drawn by Dave Gibbons (who is on my mind since I discovered he has been declared Comics Laureate, to my delight, I cannot think of a better choice). His gestures were relaxed, and his face was lined, but not in a sinister way. The kitten, either irritated by my divided attention or begging for food, licked my mouth. I set him down (gently) and he bounded down the stairs and up to the pale man, for his next round of fuss, which seemed to be forthcoming.

The final flutter of snaptember

Sunflower head
Snaptember has drawn to its sensible close leaving me reflecting on whether it changed my behaviour much. Possibly a few more photographs taken; certainly a lot less shyness about posting them to LJ because, in some sense, allowed. But significantly more? Probably not. Surroundings and things make up the bulk of my online photos anyway, because a lot of the time I'm dissatisfied with the ones containing people. Or if I'm satisfied with them, I can't be sure the people in the photo will be, and all that.

So to finish off the month, I'm posting what I feel is a far more me sort of photo post - below, from top left; yellow lilac leaves, street merkin, mating pigeons and my favourite building site, where the building it being slotted together in big, brightly-coloured prefabulous panels:

And so to finish on a note about the warm autumn; below, I'm photographing petunias that have self-seeded from gone-over municipal planting. That's how warm it is this year. Pretty cosy for October. That said, I did just clear away the last of the tomatoes. And put on the heating. And pick out a favourite new autumn jumper. For the season, it is a-changing.