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[Poll #1081693]

In other news, and at the risk of it all going horribly wrong, I've put in an offer on another flat and had it accepted. All being well, I might even be in by Christmas. Ho ho.
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For your amusement, a very young-looking me, [livejournal.com profile] thirstypixel and [livejournal.com profile] miss_wonderly (together with [livejournal.com profile] miss_wonderly's midriff) at a party at Constantine House in York in 1993...

Scenes of Grotesque Barbarousness )

(with thanks to Laura (WINOLJ) for the picture)
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The weekend was long and tortuous, but for the first time in my life saw me really feeling rather like Napoleon ('Have you heard? He's really losing it this time. Damn fool thinks he's Napoleon. I always said he was funny, poor chap.') No, callow reader, don't worry, I still retain the threads of my sanity, or at least inasmuch as I ever had them. What I was saying, before I was so rudely blah blah, was that the weekend put me in mood not of the Emperor in his majesty, but of the Napoleon of 1812, standing in the smoking wreck of Moscow with winter closing in and the Grande Armée deserting him left, right and centre. He had come so incredibly far, slowly and arduously and suffering terrible losses on the way, but eventually he had done it: the Russians had been decisively crushed at Borodino, and now their capital lay open and defenceless as he walked in, the man who had bested every state in continental Europe. But his armies had lost a lot of their strength and all of their impetus, and Napoleon rapidly ran out of options: going any further was unthinkable, and could lead only to disaster, starvation, death and ignominious defeat. Staying, likewise, was impossible, and would mean the same, only more lingeringly. The only course was retreat, scurrying desperate retreat; all the hard-won territory was given up, all the artillery dumped, everything - rifles, uniforms, any semblance of dignity - abandoned as Napoleon and the last shreds of his army turned tail and ran back to the West. Of around half a million who set out against Russia, not ten thousand returned to France.

But for the shooting-of-deserters and having-to-eat-rats-as-all-the-rations-had-gone bits, this is almost exactly analogous to what I was feeling on Saturday and Sunday, as I re-packed everything which I'd moved less than a month ago into my new and thoroughly exciting (or not, as it turned out) flat, and moved it all out in high dudgeon to [livejournal.com profile] zoo_music_girl's place. Bah.

Unlike Napoleon, though, I was aided and assisted in my inglorious retrenchment by a superb and generally wonderful bunch of helpers: thank you very much indeed, [livejournal.com profile] ladycat, [livejournal.com profile] midwich_cuckoo, [livejournal.com profile] latexiron, [livejournal.com profile] naturalbornkaos, [livejournal.com profile] incy, [livejournal.com profile] voofy and Robin, [livejournal.com profile] fjm, [livejournal.com profile] ivory_goddess, [livejournal.com profile] magfish and Bill, and [livejournal.com profile] zoo_music_girl and her mother, without whose collective assistance it really would have been completely grisly. I am vastly indebted to all of you, and extremely grateful. Particular thanks to those who drove! Gratitude also to those who offered help but were eventually not needed.

Now I am back at square one, and need to re-start the whole business of finding a place, arranging a mortgage (at the thrilling new rates!) and going through the horror of conveyancing and moving and so on. The temptation just to go feral and live in the woods and keep bones in my beard is, of course, strong at all times, but seldom has its appeal seemed so especially enticing as now.

Making my world more interesting, though, is the prevailing air of impending damnatio surrounding the housing market at the moment. I know that housing market crashes - just like wife-swapping parties - are far more talked about than ever actually occurring and that in any case that sort of thing Doesn't Happen in London (the housing crashes, that is, not the wife-swapping), but one lives, you know, in hope...
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The latest on the CRISIS that is swamping the good ship Simon Buys A Flat is that I have spoken this morning to the one person at the estate agents who seems to have a clue. He tells me that councils regularly cover themselves in estimating the costs of repairs and that it may well not be the full £23k as quoted to me on Monday, but just like the late Lord Astor (whom admittedly he in no other way resembles, being a bit of a likable cockney wide-boy type and not a rather meretricious peer) he would say that, wouldn't he? I told him that I was looking for a reduction in price from the vendor without naming a figure and he's gone away to talk to him. I hold out scant hope that this is actually going to come to anything - particularly in view of all the ex-council tales of doom you were all spilling yesterday - but We Shall See.

Planning against the worst, however, I now have a schema for removing my things from the flat: the furniture and larger stuff will go down to the ancestral pile in TW10, but I'm hoping to store all the smaller things in [livejournal.com profile] zoo_music_girl's attic, which she has been lovely enough to offer up for the purpose (have I ever mentioned what a totally wonderful human being she truly is?). I'm going to be spending the next few days reboxing and repacking everything (just after spending a fortnight doing exactly the opposite: joys!), but I am now looking for any help and assistance that people might be able to offer in shifting the stuff across Walthamstow to Fiona's. I'd be looking mainly at doing this on Sunday, although it may well be that there will still be things to do on the Monday or Tuesday evenings, if anyone's able to help then. Assistance from those with cars/vans and those who happen to be big strong men would be especially useful, although if you are but a small and especially puny female who only has a bicycle then I'd still be immensely grateful for your help. Food, drink, dinner invitations and privileged access for life to my delightful and charmingly boyish company will be showered upon anyone who is able to help, together with the starry-eyed admiration of all your peers, who will be struck by your altruistic benevolence, and will almost certainly be more eager to do dreadful things with you, knowing that you're fundamentally an alright sort of person, so it doesn't count that you're a bit sleazy and have odd tastes.

All that for such a little thing, eh? You'd have to be mad not to.
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You will find this, gentle reader, to be a livejournal post of two distinct halves: one of them is the post that I was turning over in my mind at around 3.30 yesterday, and the other is inspired by a telephone conversation I had at around 3.35...

THE FIRST PART

In this first bit I'm afraid I shall be a bit ancient mariner, wandering about with flashing Eye and Countenance dishevell'd and chewing all the barnacles in my straggly black beard as I recount my ghastly tale of woe and doom and horror at truly appalling length. I know that all you metaphorical wedding guests really don't want to hear all this and are desperately looking for some plausible means of extrication from this grizzled loon who's imposing himself on you so that you can go and wrap yourself instead around the metaphorical wedding cake that is the rest of your friends list, but bear with me, for you shall profit from my dreadful example. Or at least, it'll mean that I shan't have to tell this story forty eight times when I see everyone in the next few days.

My property acquisition hell )

Anyway, enough of my whingeing! Sorry about that. Normal composure now restored, and to cheer myself up I shall now do what I was intending to do yesterday and witter about archaeology... :)

THE SECOND PART (more interesting)

I am thoroughly intrigued by this story from the BBC: "Viking ship 'buried beneath pub'". This ship sounds interesting, of course, but what is a lot more fascinating is what is going on in the presentation of the story. When it comes down to it, what have we actually got here? A reported sighting of a boat in 1938 by some workmen - with no archaeologists present - and also some remote sensing results. That can only mean that they're picking up rows of nails, which is what's leading to the suggestion of a clinker-built boat. Now clinker construction is certainly characteristic of early medieval Scandinavian boat-building, but unfortunately it's also characteristic of just about all of northern Europe over a much wider period: clinker-built boats are still produced today, and were knocked out locally in reasonable numbers from the early middle ages (the ship in Mound One at Sutton Hoo - 150 years before 'viking' raids came to England - is of clinker construction) right through to the early modern or modern periods. There is, to be sure, a very reasonable chance that whatever's down there is an early medieval boat: clinker construction does certainly become rarer throughout northern Europe from the twelfth century or so onwards, but that's emphatically not something that can be determined from a remote sensing trace of rows of clench nails or rivets. Put plainly, we just do not know enough about early medieval boats to be able to determine their age and type and provenance remotely and without excavation: even where a full excavation *has* taken place, it's extremely tricky.

But that's why the presentation of this story is fascinating, because Prof Harding of Nottingham University - the source - is certainly absolutely aware of all of that. Prof Harding, however, is also looking for funds to undertake a proper dig: try as you might, though, enthusing people and finding sponsors for an excavation of an anonymous and possibly early medieval - or possibly not - clinker-built craft is maybe not the easiest of tasks unless and until you go and slap the V-word on it. You can be absolutely sure that that story would not be floating around the BBC's website were it not for the fact that it has the word 'Viking' attached to it, which means that we can wheel out the inevitable pictures of stripy-sailed reconstructions and make it all seem thoroughly dashing and roguish and exciting (hoo-rah!), and not just some boring old boat.

This is a genuine problem for archaeologists and historians. We are constantly strapped for cash, and in order for important work to be done there is no alternative but to engage public interest. But that public is - in this particular example - far more interested in the garish nineteenth-century fantasy about horned-helmeted ultra-violent ultra-masculine freedom-loving 'Vikings' than it is ever likely to be in the much less glamorous reality of early medieval life. Do we, therefore, pander to that fantasy and thereby encourage it - no matter that amongst ourselves we know it's all a farrago of nonsense and exaggeration - justifying our actions on the grounds that this way we are funded, which is surely better than that we are not? Or should we be a little more honest and not magic perfectly respectable boats of unknown provenance into sexy Viking ships with no justification and no evidence simply because we know that that'll get us a better press?
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Well, Infest was a blast.
Read more... )
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Good Lord! I am living proof that medievalists know how to party, apparently. Get on down to Kalamazoo International Medieval Congress dance, hepcats: it's K-razy!

(The article, I hasten to mention, isn't remotely about me: I'm just the rock'n'roll decoration. Story of my life, though, really)

Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] juniperus for finding the link.
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So, yes, as promised on Friday, an update on my one-word lyrics quiz! This was really quite hard, but I dished out bonus points with a decent amount of abandon to compensate. You managed to come up with some hellishly obscure suggestions for songs that [livejournal.com profile] zoo_music_girl or I might possibly know, and I am also quite surprised by the bizarre words that some popular beat combos clearly feel are an absolute necessity for their ditties. Thesauruses, one feels, have been consulted. But anyway, without further ado...
The Answers )
The Scores )
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Gosh, Iron Maiden on Sunday were great fun. No full review, I'm afraid as I Don't Do Them any more, and I'd only come over all gushy and over-enthusiastic if I were to. Oo, but they were splendid and life-affirming and cheering, and a thoroughly Good Thing. And they're touring Powerslave and Somewhere in Time and maybe Seventh Son next year, so that'll be great. Rime of the Ancient Mariner live, perhaps? \m/

The good Dr Keen reminds me that I have been wildly remiss and failed to mention the imminent Keen/Trafford Historical Walk through St Albans, which will be happening on Sunday July 8th! There is a poll here to tell us that you'll be coming! Actually, this year's effort is not after all going to be the double act, but will in fact be a single-hander by Dr Keen, as I don't really have an awful lot to say about St A's. Well, that's not strictly true: I could tell everyone in not inconsiderable detail about a rather fascinating bit of re-used drain which seems to be good evidence of fifth-century continuity and occupation during the post-Roman dark earth strata, but you'd probably all die from the over-excitement, which'd be no good at all. So yes, [livejournal.com profile] swisstone will be doing all the honours, but I shall be joining the adoring throng all cheering him on and throwing our underwear at him and so on.

A Lyrics Quiz, sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti


Anyway, these are but idle preliminaries to the major stuff of this post! After much thought, I present you with a lyrics quiz with, though it horrifies me beyond belief to say it, a twist... It's all far far too easy when you have nice long quotations to jog your memory, so this has been made a bit harder by the fact that you are given only one word from each song! In every case, though, the word chosen is distinctive and unusual and - so far as I know - only occurs in one popular song (famous last words, natch...). [livejournal.com profile] zoo_music_girl has made some suggestions on this: you may be able to tell which are hers and which are mine.

Scoring is as follows: one point for artist, one for title of the song I have in mind, but there is also one bonus point per question on offer if you can show that that word has appeared in another song (Has to be the exact word as given)

Answer in (screened) comments. Answers and scores on Monday. Vast and life-changing prizes for the victors. And to start you off, there's an embarrassingly easy one.
Word )
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So far as I can recall I don't have any Danes or Danish-speakers on my friends list, but are there any Norvegophones out there who could possibly help me out with a passage of Danish? It's about 5 pages, maybe 1500 words. I shall sprinkle gifts, chocolate, beer, dancing girls, dancing bears, or whatever your fancies might crave upon you if you can help.

Update Oops. Loathsome. Sorry, I meant to say '...whatever your loathsome fancies might crave etc etc'. I hope my sense was nonetheless clear.

Further Update Does anyone know who one 'Michael Berns' might be? He's added me on Facebook, but the name conveys absolutely nothing to me. What a bloody silly nonsense this real names lark is on FB, eh? How on earth are we supposed to know who anyone is?
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I've had a really good idea for a themed lyrics quiz at some point, but in the mean time, have this poll, inspired by today's Guardian, as I so frequently am. Oh dear.

[Poll #1003661]
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I can't decide whether or not to get one...

The Pros


  • Lots of bands have them and it's a convenient way of keeping up and making sure I get early ticket notifications blah blah

  • Lots of people I know are on there, and nothing could be more desperately awful than not doing what everyone else is doing



The Cons


  • Rupert Murdoch. However you look at it, you can't get around the fact that it's News International, and thus about as ethical as Vladimir Putin.

  • their r s0 m4ny lusers - God I can't keep this up - There are so many utter illiterates using net and text speak on Myspace that I might explode. Do I really want to be associated with that horror? If Joseph Conrad were alive today, he'd have written Heart of Myspace...

  • It's really *really* ugly and baffling

  • Like I'd ever actually use it. I mean, my livejournal posting history is scarcely bandwidth-straining.

  • Really, though, it's bloody Murdoch. It's not as bad as buying the Times or the Sun or subscribing to Sky, but by adding to his user total, you are increasing his advertising revenue and his meejah clout.



[Poll #990051]
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I imagine you are all conversant with a later play of Bertolt Brecht's called The Tutor, but in case by some mischance you have forgotten the details, I shall remind you that the plot, set in the eighteenth century, revolves around a poor but radical and principled young private tutor who finds himself both in trouble for his political views and at the same time rather worryingly attracted to the nubilely curvaceous and enticing young women - daughters of his wealthy clients - whom he is engaged to educate.
No, there is some sort of point to this, honest )
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Have you ever noticed how in recent years in meejahland, often people no longer protest against things or appeal against decisions but instead baldly protest them or appeal them? Of course 'to protest' when used transitively actually merely means 'to state an opinion or belief': by protesting the sovereignty of parliament, for example, Cromwell was saying that it was a thoroughly good thing that power should be vested in it, not registering dissent from that doctrine, whatever a large chunk of the BBC and others might seem to think. When used intransitively or with an assumed object, 'protest' can certainly have the meaning 'to object' or 'to complain' as in 'When people egregiously abuse the poor old English language, I shall protest', but it's an horrendous solecism to extend that usage in such a way that the word is now applied in ignorance in a sense that is absolutely opposite to that which it actually should carry. Ditto 'appeal'. Oh it makes me palpitate with rage and loathing. I bet it's all the Americans' fault.

In other news, it would appear, the Foxtons boards having appeared in my front garden, that my landlords are pressing ahead with their plans to sell my flat, and in the not too far distant future I shall be seeking alternative accommodation. I'm planning on buying, but, as anyone conversant with the high-flying world of academic salaries will be aware, this means it looks rather likely that I shall soon no longer be a dweller 'midst the sunny Arcadian orange-groves of London N1 and instead shall be cast into outer darkness somewhere in the suburbs. But still, it'll be mine, haha, and I shall be able to do what I like there.

Although [livejournal.com profile] zoo_music_girl informs me that owning one's own place doesn't mean that it's all right to dig an enormous hole in the floor simply because it's yours and you can do that. Bah, what on earth's the point, then?


Update: Oh yes, and happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] steer! I've finally remembered your Combichrist ticket and I'll give it to you in York.
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Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] jezebel_z and, umm, me! Only our mothers can tell us apart.

Thanks very much indeed to everyone who came out on Friday. A lovely time was had by all, so far as I can tell, and especially by me. :) And wasn't the jukebox suitably rawktastic? WASP and all...

[livejournal.com profile] _whitenoise's do on Saturday was excellent fun too: I really enjoyed losing everything at the roulette wheel through my devil-may-care wild-eyed rashness, and wanted to put the family estate, [livejournal.com profile] zoo_music_girl and my good name in society in jeopardy too, just so's I could lose them all and have to skulk off to Agadir or somewhere amid utter social disaster in a rather Sebastian Flyte sort of way. But they didn't let me, unfortunately.

Today I have plans for a day of repellent and parasitic idleness and self-indulgence: come the revolution I am so first up against the wall. That's a minor long-term difficulty, though, whereas today everything is just peachy, especially as lots of really hot babes keep wishing me happy birthday. Only proper as this is, it nonetheless makes me grin and puts a gloss on the day. :)

Other plans for the next few hours revolve around reading Elisabeth Van Houts's rip-roaring page-turner Memory and Gender in Medieval Europe, 900-1200. More and more these days I seem to be turning into a gender historian, which is absolutely the last thing I'd ever have expected. Women, eh? As Def Leppard once so appositely put it, men can't live without them. Yeah.
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Argh, why won't bloody Dave Wyndorf get his finger out and tour, the great idle fop? It's not just MM, though, there doesn't seem to be anyone I want to see coming up soon at all. Please tell me that I'm wrong and that QotSA have just decided to headline a show at the Garage, backed by Jane's Addiction and the RHCPs and that they've agreed to give free tickets, a bevy of broadminded and highly flexible groupies and all the JD a young man could possibly desire to anyone who shows up who's over 6'4" and whose first name begins with 'S'...

That aside, though, are there any gigs (bleepy or rawk) lined up that I should be raiding my piggy bank for?

Playing Dark City in May is the following line-up:
GRENDEL
XP-8
SIVA SIX
PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE 0.1
CYBERCIDE

but of those, I only know Grendel... Incidentally, was it they who did that song with a guy with a really scary East End voice going on about being twisted? But, anyway, yes, who else might be thinking of Dark Citying?

In other news, in the light of Grotesque and Horrendous Disasters in the Antipodes earlier in the week, I have decided that I wish to end any association that I may ever have had with England or anywhere else that can produce the sort of buffoons who collapse to 129 all out after getting 560 odd in their first innings. Maybe I could pass myself off as one of the posher sort of Scot, do you think? Or Kiwi, or Aussie, or well, anywhere... Happy Valley Kenyan? Plausible?

Also, I have been horribly ill with an ear infection which may or may not have been labyrinthitis, but which was certainly akin to it. You should all give me bags and bags of sympathy.
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Fantastically dull query, but can anyone recommend a good builder, for preference not too far distant from N1?
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On Saturday I did the last thing that anyone would have expected and went to Slimelight! The thrill must have all gone to my poor weak blond head as now I'm only going and breaking my two-month lj duck and posting. Crumbs.
Read more... )
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I rather like this. It's a web page which is 1.8444 billion miles on each side, equivalent to an area of our solar system reaching from the sun to Saturn, and containing 8,100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pixels.

I bet the guy who did the Million Dollar Homepage is kicking himself for thinking so small...

But best of all, only Firefox can load the site properly.

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