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


librarylizzie said...

Sounds like a lovely week off, apart from the cold. (although one of my friends had a week off in Istanbul last week, and got a cold. That has to be worse. Anyway, I love the nerdy fact about Turing and the apple.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for blogging about Bletchley Park and for highlighting its lack of financial support from the government. Please visit for details of my campaign to save it. Do also sign the petition which is linked from my blog.

Titian red said...

Very nearly the first homework, Autumn Term, "What I did on my holidays" ! Remember those ?
It is so galling when time off is sabotaged with snot. Hope you are feeling much better now..... isn't Luca Turin wonderful ? My "dip into" book for being almost asleep and wanting to smile first.. not such a non-sequitur as it may appear, my mind did the blocked nose/fragrance linking.

Lucy Fishwife said...

LL - Oh how I love nerdy facts. My mum just emailed me and said she thought it represented Eve but I prefer the Turing idea! Yes, as weeks off go it could have been a lot worse - and a good curry definitely helps banish the fluey blues...

Sue - thanks for reading my blog! My grandfather was at Bletchley so i had a family bias anyway - but I didn't know about the woeful state of its finances till I went. Will continue to rant and am on my way over to sign the petition!

TR - Wouldn't it be great if our school essays could have been about food and shopping? somehow they were always "AND THEN we went in the sea AND THEN my brother got wet AND THEN we had tea". Yes I love Luca Turin. I even think I may (intellectually)fancy him. Sadly I also have a girl-crush on Tania Sanchez...

Rol said...

"Alan Turing committed suicide by painting an apple with cyanide and eating half of it."

I had to study this sentence for a long time... originally I interpreted it as the delightfully surreal idea that he did a painting of an apple with cyanide and ate half the painting.

Which would have been a truly fantastic way to kill oneself.

Brother Tobias said...

I'd like to visit Bletchley Park, and have signed the petition. I was absorbed by and struggled with (in equal measure) a biography of Turing a few years back (I think it may have been the Andrew Hodges one). Struggled because the mathematics was hard to wrap my mind round.
Hope the cold goes soon.

Steve said...

Vile colds are a lousy way to spend a week but it sounds like you distracted yourself amply - Bletchley sounds fascinating: it calls to the nerd in me but I'm happy to embrace it.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Rol - I could have phrased that slightly more clearly, couldn't I? Still makes for a fabulously surreal way to go though. Bit like a deathwish version of "Harold And The Purple Crayon".

BT - Shamefully my introduction to Turing came via William Gibson ("The Turing Police" who track down and destroy over-aware AIs) but I'd like to know more. I don't have a maths brain (good at languages though) so might suffer the same fate as you. Apparently he was a strange and slightly offputting man - bit like Van Gogh.

Steve - The great thing about Bletchley was the total celebration of the nerd. Where are those places now for those of us who like comics, crosswords, languages, and the novels of Pynchon and Nabokov??? Eh???

French Fancy... said...

I had no idea about Turing and the apple. That is the sort of thing that I will think about and tell absolutely everyone I meet.

We don't get shopping malls in our backwater of Brittany - I'm quite glad about that really.

Why doesn't Bletchley Park get any funding? Blooming Dis-Gus-Ting

Anonymous said...

I spoke to my mother yesterday and she told me all about her vile cold and how she had visited Westfield shopping Centre. She arrived at 11am on Sunday only to find that none of the shops opened until midday. She hasn't been to Bletchley Park though so that was new.

The tour sounds divine. I just love sampling and snacking all day. I suppose that is why I have put on a stone?

Anyway, I hope you left some for me - I am feeling rather peckish.

I will sign the Bletchley Park thing. I had no idea re the lack of funding.

Glad you are back.

Lucy Fishwife said...

FF - I love the way the french do supermarkets though - it's kind of *shrug* "oui, it's huge, but sadly for you we close for lunch...". Whereabouts in Brittany are you? Spent a fantastic weekend near Honfleur this July. Not sure why the govt have decided not to fund Bletchley when the War Museum and Churchill's War Office are absolutely funded out the wazoo but maybe it's just that computers are less visually appealing than tanks. A shocker indeed!

RB - Still have some amazing Caerphilly and some smoked pancetta in the fridge - and loads of olive oil! Westfield is a strange place - the fact of it all being indoors means you forget it's raining outside and are bathed in a perpetual sedative cocoon of artificial sunlight and easy spending. Luckily I went outside for a cigarette and remembered the Real World was still rainy, grey, and recession-bound... (call me Eeyore). Thanks for signing the petition! Promise I'm not normally a soapbox type.

Titian red said...

Ohh, Lloyd Alexander, I loved those books with a passion. One of my best memories of childhood is finding "The Book of Three", "The Changeling of Monte Lucia" by Violet Needham and a new Joan Aiken all in the same library visit.

Lucy Fishwife said...

I can't believe I forgot to add Prince Gwydion of the Sons of Don to my fictional crush-list!!!!!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Interesting re the Apple computers logo!

I do hope your cold is better now Lucy. I've still got the eye infection nearly a week later, but at least it has ceased being sore.