Archive for January, 2007


I’ve just got called down to the front desk to collect some flowers that had randomly turned up there. Cue some very puzzled porters. And an even more puzzled JTA, actually.

[If you’re no’ a fan o’ sappy weediness, ye shud look awa’ noo…]*

Just for the record, Ruth is far too good for me, and I don’t deserve her at all, and I love her enormously, and she has a wonderful talent for making life seem better, even when everything is tiring and stressful and bleak. So a huge thank-you, and I love you to her, and hooray, because you are so very wonderful and kind! And also I appear to be full of cheer and smiles. Hooray!

[Yez can all carry on wi’ yer readin’ from heer. It’s safe noo]

*I’ve been typing in vaguely Scots since December. I’ve no idea why.

All together for the final push…

Four performances left to go. This is good; the whole thing is getting enormously tiring. Also, being the Principal-with-least-stage-time, and having known all my lines for something close to two months now, such adrenaline as I get from the wretched thing remains minimal. Still, the audiences are mostly enjoying it, which is never a bad thing, since they’re the people who are actually shelling out hard cash to come and look at it…

Saturday is going to be a nightmare, however – I’ve one of my Need-To-Get-Up-At-0630-To-Get-To-Oxford Saturday duties, which finishes at 1300, so I can run like blue murder to the bus stop, leap dashingly onto the already-departing X39 by means of a ninja rope and stylish crashing-through-the-emergency-door routine, then fall into the CX for a 1430 matinee, die from exhaustion, do the evening performance plagued once again by deja-vu and then go home, have a thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat and never get up until the next morning.

Still keep falling asleep on buses; I must be getting soft – if I’d kept doing that on the X39 the Muxton-and-Lilleshall Arseholes Brigade would’ve played all manner of practical jokes being malicious cockwits on me. On the other hand, a maroon blazer probably doesn’t look as intimidating as a “I can sue you if I want” -implying suit. Although, to be fair, I got grabbed and shaken by that blazer way less after I shoved a couple of drawing pins through the lapels…

Anyway. I remain very tired.

I’ve also continued reading stuff, so I guess I should give you and update on that, since I’ve nowt better to do but go have lunch.

Since the 15th, therefore, I’ve racked up:

8) A Pinch of Snuff, which is good; trying to go through the Dalziel & Pascoe series in order; Ruth says it’s better that way because of returning characters…
9) The Historian, lent to me by Liz, playing the Fairy in Panto. I rather liked that; not normally a fan of dracula type stuff, but since he was killing archivists…
10) The Power House – working through John McNab, at the moment.
11) The Game of Diplomacy, which is a bit strange; I don’t think I agree with the man on a lot of points, but then it is from the ’70’s. Also, it seems to be amazingly hard to get, so if it isn’t on the same floor of the library you work in as your office, it might be a bit harder. The NLW should have a copy, though, for you Aber people who are curious.

Have fun!

So… Sleeeeeeepppppeeeeee…

My God, I’ve never before realised how exhausting it is to do both a show and a full-time job before. At least, in the past, I’ve always been at school, doing a moderate amount of work, or at Uni, doing even less. There hasn’t been a bus I’ve been on in the last eight days that I’ve not fallen asleep on.

Still, it’s rather fun, and, by and large, it’s fun. I especially like the faintly chauvinistic traditions of the Port Club, wherein such males as are involved and wish to be a part of the club get together in the interval and share a bottle of port between ’em, the only rule being ‘you each donate one bottle, and you can’t repeat bottles, so get in early before you have to hand over something either very old or very rare.’ It makes the second half go by really very well indeed.

I’ve had no time for anything else but sleeping, as a result, however, so I’ll spare you further tedious complaints about how I could do with a few hundred more hours in a day for being asleep in, and point out that, after two weeks out of my 52, I’m now up to seven books (I said I wasn’t going to be challenging; I just want to know how unchallenging it’s going to be…)

Those racked up so far are as follows:

4. The Eternity Code (which, like the other two, is great for reading in ten-minute bursts, which gets me through two to three chapters)

5. The Spring of the Ram (Bryn, this is a great series; if I told you it was like House of Cards but devious, I hope you’d get hold of a copy of the first one, Niccolo Rising)

6. 5 Minute Whodunnits (amazingly shoddy logic puzzles – they’re all either a) “Deduce lie from unchallenging thing in text, eg, glass smashed on outside of window, so it was an inside job” or, b) Three people, two statements from each, which one always lies, which always tells truth, which one changes.” Do yezselves a favour, and dinnae bother)

7. The Stranger House, which is rather decent.

I know there are people out there who find this thing an actual challenge, and I probably shouldn’t mock too much, because there will be times when I’m not getting on as well as I am now (I’m going, for a start, to run out of books, presently, and will have to start making time to find a library what gives ’em out to people) but, even so, I can’t help wondering why they picked fifty books, rather than a hundred. Still, maybe it’s aimed at people who don’t actually read things, rather than people who spot an opportunity to see how much they actually do…

Am going to have to visit the doctor tomorrow, if I can get an appointment; very tiresome and not something I’d do if I could avoid it, especially since it’ll mean complicatedness with work, but it’s been over four weeks since the whiplash thingy and my head still can’t turn more than 90 degrees to the right without it hurting, and I still can’t lie on my right shoulder, so I’m going to see if there’s any tips beyond “take more ibruprofen” they care to lob in my direction. I plan, also, to take the chance to ask if I could have something other than ibruprofen for my knees; I’ll’ve been taking it in 4- (&, occasionally 8-) -hundred mg doses for seven years come spring, and, aside from the fact it seems to do increasing less in teeny 400 mg doses, I’m not entirely convinced that’s unrelated to the recent delicacies of my stomach, which, in recent years, have done things like make me start to get travelsick, and stop me from having coffee on an empty stomach.

Hey ho. I’m way too do more of this. G’night.

Well it *could* be challenging…

So, aye, those of you with suspiciously good recollection of previous things I’ve done may now be smug and remember that, once, a long time ago, I was attempting NaNoWriMo 2005. That lasted about a week, and then I got a) bored and b) stressed out by housemates wankers.

Still, another year, another thing I can have a go at, and then forget about in the coming weeks (which, with Panto now sucking my every non-working waking moment down into a black hole of sleeplessness, shouldn’t be too hard) – there’s a thing in which you read 50 books in a year, and then tell people about it. That gives you a fortnight’s grace, I guess.

I figure, what the Hell. I used, back when I caught the rotten No. 83 to school each day, read much more than I do now, but since I’ve been working again, I now have to read in order to take my mind of how horribly strong I have to make my instant coffee if I hope to stay awake to the next break. So I’m racking up ninety-odd minutes of reading time each weekday, which might help.

I’ve not looked into it enough to be able to tell if there’s a set word limit each book needs to have, so I’m going to say I’m counting monographs, but not open serials, such as the Guide from the Saturday Grauniad, or Private Eye, or the xkcd alt-text. As an extra restriction, I’m not going to count monographs I come across whilst cataloguing ’em, because that would be a) rather implying I’ve got sufficient free time to loll about reading the stuff here at work – which I haven’t, and if I had such time I’d spend it sleeping, at the moment – and b) kinda cheating, especially since almost all the stuff I run into here isn’t stuff I’d normally pick to read. So deliberate stuff only, then.

To be fair, I’m not convinced this will be a “challenge” in the sense of “something which is challenging” – mean, come on, “Read slightly less than a book a week for the next 52 weeks!” is hardly up there with “row across the Atlantic,” or “Trek across the sahara desert in a camel costume,” or “go a whole day without a cup of tea or coffee,” is it? My interest lies not in reading slightly less than I’m normally likely to read, but in finding out how much more I read, now I’ve got more “free” time which I typically spend reading. I might, of course, get to December and think “O no! I’ve only read 37 books!” but that will be interesting, too.

I appreciate I’m starting a week late, so you get a bit of a lump summary of what I’ve clocked up so far…

  1. Artemis Fowl
  2. Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident
  3. Eurekaaagh, compiled by Adam Hart-Davis

…I reckon that’s it so far, as I’m working my way through Spring of the Ram fairly slowly. I’ll tell yez when I’ve clocked it up. Or else get really bored o’ this and give up…

  • 2007: All Good So Far…

    …2006 ended interestingly, as well. Got a lift North to Maulds Meaburn, yonder Cumbrian village what Dan mentions, and where, at weekends, Ruth’s father hangs out, away from nuisances like telephones bearing people who want to speak to him.

    We arrived – Ruth’s mother (the Rev.), her brother Robin and I – in horrible weather, and bang between the starter and the main course of a dinner Tom & Judith were giving for a couple of friends they had staying for New Year. The timing, all things considered, could have been better, but, dutifully sticking to the Plan (I like sticking to a plan, it means the only trouble you really face is bringing the Plan about and hoping it all goes like you thought it would) I carted Tom away from the table and into the living room, where, full of nerves, I asked him if he’d give me permission to marry Ruth.

    …This would appear to be a good point to insert a clarifying parentheses…

    (Firstly, I was asking, rather than making a bald matter-of-fact announcement, because we were rather keen that he understood we weren’t – and, indeed, still aren’t – planning on doing anything just yet; we’re waiting until 2010, so we can save up some cash, Ruth can finish her degree, we can say we’re at least a reasonably respectable age [mid twenties], and we can have a nice round number from which to remember anniversaries. By asking a question, rather than making a statement, I was not only inviting further questions [because I didn’t force a simple ‘O, right, that’s a surprise’ issue] and I was, in theory, signaling that we’d rather like him to be OK with it, without giving away too much of the fact we’ve rather been waiting for a chance to do the Ask Tom bit and this was the first chance we’d got…)

    In accordance with the plan, he didn’t raise objections once he’d been re-assured on points such as “No, I don’t mean this Summer, I mean at some sensible time” and “Aye, we’ve thought about it and it’s something we’d both like to do,” and “No, we’re not planning on including unhelpful members of the clergy or mendacious white dresses,” and thus we reach a stage at which the whole thing gets rather more public, since we’re not concerned about breaking it gently-ish to sundry family members.

    So, aye. That made for a good end to 2006, that did. And, indeed, a good start to 2007, and, when Waitrose opens tomorrow, a good excuse to nab a bottle of their 1999 Moet, the only drink that’s ever given me a hangover, but which is fantastically nice.

    In anticipation of some potentially asked questions:

    • We’re no doing a “traditional” church wedding because they’re a bit, uh, naff, especially since Ruth only really likes Churches for their musical potential, and I remain deeply mistrustful of the vast capacity for abuse the system of organised religion seems to build into itself in the same way the human body contrives toenails. We’re rather more likely to be doing a Quaker wedding instead, but that’s still some stages of planning away, since I’ll need to speak to my Meeting first, and tell ’em.
    • Yes, probably is a bit of a shock. And, quite possibly, to one or two of you more than others. Still, we like it, and are really very happy with the way it’s all panning out, so we anticipate reactions of “I’m not that bothered, please don’t keep telling me about it, shut up” and “Hey, that’s cool, I hope it all goes well and you’re happy.” You’re welcome to have variations on them, and, of course, completely different reactions, but, by and large, we’d preffer the latter…
    • We are indeed a wee bit young. But since we’ll be not nearly so young in three and some months year’s time, that’s probably no huge problem. And we have gone through considerable periods of mass stress and penury, some fairly crap times, and some wrist-slashingly abysmal times, so I don’t reckon you could say we’re too young to understand how tough the world can be, or that we’ll go to bits in the event of our first “real” problem, because you’d not get past the first comma before I shoved your fists up yer bum. [I still get tetchy when people say I dunno what shit life can be…]
    • I know, I know, I know… telling people via the Internet: lazy, cheezy, and just a wee bit insulting. But the alternative would be ringing you all up, in which case I’d miss someone, and really upset them, or sending out a load of e-mails, which would either be personal, but two lines long, or an impersonal and even more insulting “hello people, here is news, bye”… Sometimes mass communication is kinda handy…
    • And, finally, aye, we’ve done the ring bit. Note “we’ve,” – technically, I think, Ruth’s the only person entitled to one, but that smacks to me of a pre-feminist “women are chattels and should be marked as belonging to people” plot to deprive me of the excuse to buy a nice bit of jewelery, so bugger that for a lark, I’m having one as well. And it’s very nice. Kudos to David Lloyd, who are an excellent family chain of jewelers in good old Shropshire, [Newport, Wellington, Ludlow, probably Shrewsbury and some other places] and who’ve done us good on what’s now three occasions, and four bits of sundry gold and silverware. Though, to be fair, House of Williams actually made the things, David Lloyd just ordered ’em and handed them over, with excellent timing, the morning after I returned to Newport.

    So there’s a bit of news for you. I’m hoping that I’ve successfully conveyed what’s been going on with a reasonable explanation and sufficient notes to explain that we’re all hugely cheerful about it at this end (and Tom didn’t vanish and return with an axe, or anything), but I imagine Ruth will contrive a post herself, so you can grab a bit of the other side of the story.

    And, aye,

    Happy New Year