Friday, 21 November 2008

Nightmares are subjective.

The chewed skeleton of the dog was later found behind the gazebo.

I have always believed that it's actually a physical impossibility to "wake up screaming" from a nightmare - apparently the salivary glands radically slow production while you're asleep, in order to stop you (sorry if you're eating) drowning in your own spit. This explains why you can tell if somebody is pretending to be asleep because you can hear them swallow, and why you often wake up with a dry mouth. I have had my share of nightmares, and more often than not wake up wheezing rather than screaming - more like the noise of a cat dealing with a furball than a full-throated Hollywood AAAAAIIIEEEEEEE. Imagine my surprise when the other night I was woken by an almost Niles Crane style of shriek ("No, Daphne, that wasn't your mother screaming...") from the slumbering Mr Fishwife. It later transpired he had had a nightmare in which Esther Rantzen was chasing him, with a spear, down a long corridor which also happened to be his grandmother's back garden. Just when he thought it was safe and was hiding behind a shed, she emerged again, this time with a pair of shears. Now what this experience has taught me is (a) the logic of nightmares is random to say the least, (b) maybe I'm wrong about the salivary thing, and (c) people who scream in your ear at 4 in the morning can really disturb your sleep.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Wot I done on my week off

1) had a fairly vile cold

2) went to Bletchley Park - humbling - next time I feel embarrassed by my nerd-dom I will think of the cryptographers, translators and early computer-developers of Bletchley Park (Alan Turing* to name but one) and hold my head high. Nerds arguably won the war. And certainly shortened it by at least 2 years! And without wishing to stand on a soapbox and rant, Bletchley Park receives NO GOVERNMENT FUNDING AT ALL. Not a penny**. Which I find frankly disgusting.

3) went to Westfield "shopping centre" (small town more like) - a gigantic, Swarovski-crystal-studded temple to consumerism, virtually on my doorstep. May be the death of Hammersmith as a shopping area, but Hammersmith is a fetid hole in the ground as far as shops go anyway. All I can tell you from my haze of capitalist wonder is: they have a Waitrose. And a Habitat. And a Paperchase. And a strangely tiny Gap. And a whole bunch of shrouded units saying "Gucci - opening soon" and "Prada - opening soon" - no skin off my nose as I'm no big fan of labels.

4) went on a whistlestop gastro-tour of London organised by John Murray publishers for "Eat My Globe" by Simon Majumdar (not out till April 2009 sadly)- Borough Market, jamon iberico, pork pies, Caerphilly, jellied eels, cockles, the perfect martini, the perfect tandoori lamb chop, and Marmite-filled chocolate truffles... what did I learn from this? That £20 per 100g is worth it for the best Spanish ham in London. That jellied eels are an acquired taste but nothing like as nasty as you think they're going to be. That if you're thinking of eating at the frankly stellar New Tayyab you'd better be prepared to queue for at least two hours - but the naan bread alone makes it worth it. That Marmite chocolate truffles are fantastic and barely taste of Marmite (Heston would be proud). Ditto port and stilton chocolate truffles. That the best martinis in London are to be drunk at Hawksmoor. And that snacking all afternoon can make you slightly tetchy but really make you appreciate a good curry.

5) still had a fairly vile cold at the end of it.

* An interesting if ultra-nerdy fact - Alan Turing committed suicide by painting an apple with cyanide and eating half of it. This is why Apple computers have a bitten apple as their logo.

** to sign an e-petition to encourage the government to give Bletchley Park the funding it deserves, go to

Thursday, 6 November 2008

This is getting silly

The tagging has become a daisy chain of silliness but since I've been tagged again by Brother Tobias here's the Reduced Shakespeare productions view of the same meme I had very recently.

1) Only once, at the age of 11, and it didn't really make any major impact on my general tastes.

2) Mornington Crescent.

3) Yes, but not in brine.

4) Queen Elizabeth I, Frank Spencer, and the lift operator's voice in Are You Being Served.

5) Nothing, although you can keep Kendal Mint Cake in it.

6) A Trafalgar blue Morris Minor.

I won't tag any of you...


A day late, I know. I was off on Wednesday. Oddly quite pleased about this even though it wasn't our election. I know I said I don't do politics, and I don't. So I won't. Still quite pleased though.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Songs on the brain

Songs this week that have ricocheted irritatingly around my head (due to their sharing a title with a book I can see from where I'm sitting) include the following:

"American Boy" - book by Andrew Taylor, song by Estelle
"Almost Blue" - book by Carlo Lucarelli, song by Elvis Costello
"Angel" - book by Elizabeth Taylor, song by Gavin Friday
"Thieves Like Us" - book by Steve Cole, song by New Order

Equally annoying and more contrived are the ones that suggest a song - I've been singing "Revelation" (by C J Sansom) to the tune of "Isolation" by Joy Division, "Holes" (by Louis Sachar) to "Gold" by Spandau Ballet, and most annoyingly of all, "Two Caravans" (by Marina Lewycka) to "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond. Don't bother telling me you love Neil Diamond, I don't care. This is torture. I've resisted having an iPod for years, partly because the length of my commute hasn't warranted it since 2001, and partly because I quite like hearing the world as I go home (how else would I be finding the karaoke pub in Hammersmith such good auditory value?). But I think I may need one, as a kind of homeopathic remedy for the earworms. Because it's either that, or become one of those strange book-industry people who lurks in the stock room singing hymns really loudly to drown out The Voices, and I'm definitely not ready for that.

A couple more snippets because you all seemed to like them (honestly, I bet you're the sort of people who could live on unlimited snacks):

The TV advert for a thrush remedy (yes, the fungal infection, no not the bird) which said "It will leave you feeling yourself again" - possibly unwise on the basis of "If you pick at it it'll never get better"?

The rugby match I wish I'd watched = Nancy vs Nice. I bet that was amazingly civilised. And well-dressed.

Overheard on Saturday night from lovey-dovey couple holding hands over champagne glasses: "..and outside the laundrette I just puked pure water."