Monday, 1 October 2012

A Weakly Ramble from my Chair


I haven't spent much time in my chair this week. Most of my time has been spent in bed.   I've been what in medical jargon is described as 'grotty'.  Sometimes it's been migraine, sometimes my neurological pains but most of all an over-bearing chronic tiredness.  It's so frustrating.  Apart from anything else I've had to cancel a trip to Flint to see a gold pillar box - the nearest one to Merseyside for me to photograph.  These are the pillar boxes that have been painted gold in the home-towns of Olympic and Paralympic Gold Medal winners.  Fancy not a one being from Merseyside!  

I had better improve for next week's trip to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary.  We're having a few days away including a trip to see Daughter-who-takes-photos and a day or so at Hay-on-Wye, second-hand book capital of the world.   Partner-who-loves-tea has suggested we may need to buy a trailer to add to the car if we are let loose in Hay-on-Wye's bookshops for too long.





Futuristic Biopolymer Gel Fridge


No this is not an April Fool’s joke.  It works.  Yuriy Dmitriev’s concept design of “Bio Robot Refrigerator” was selected in the finalist category for competition, “Electrolux Design Lab 2010.”


It is described as - "Four times smaller than a conventional refrigerator, the Bio Robot cools biopolymer gel through luminescence. Rather than shelves, the non sticky, odourless gel morphs around products to create a separate pod that suspends items for easy access. Without doors, draws and a motor 90% of the appliance is solely given over to its intended purpose. At the same time, all food, drink and cooled products are readily available, odours are contained, and items are kept individually at their optimal temperature by bio robots. The fridge is adaptable – it can be hung vertically, horizontally, and even on the ceiling. Different sizes and dimensions allow it to perfectly fit the accordant dwelling."

(Anyone know what an 'accordant dwelling' is? And why use 'sizes and dimensions'?  And it either fits or it doesn't so do we need the word 'perfectly' in that last sentence? Why do people stick in so many unnecessary words?  Why not just say 'Different dimensions allow it to fit any dwelling'?) 


The Badger Kill


I hope that if someone only thought I might have committed  a murder and wasn't really sure they wouldn't just hang me in case I'd done it.

I don't know how important the role of badgers is in spreading bovine TB.  But then I am hardly alone in that. No one really knows.

As a result I am not in favour of killing them.  (I won't use the expression cull because it's just trying to make he word 'kill' less harsh and real!)  The Government had given the go ahead for badgers to be killed in parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire but that could now be  reconsidered, after over 100,000 people signed an e-petition to stop it.  The online petition was launched last week by Queen guitarist Brian May, as part of the "team badger" campaign.



Hope Mirrlees




Helen (Hope) Mirrlees (1887–1978) was a British translator, poet and novelist. She is best known for Lud-in-the-Mist (1926), a fantasy novel and influential classic, and for Paris: A Poem, a modernist poem which critic Julia Briggs deemed "modernism's lost masterpiece, a work of extraordinary energy and intensity, scope and ambition."

Born in Chislehurst, Kent and raised in Scotland and South Africa, Mirrlees attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before going up to Newnham College, Cambridge to study Greek. While at Cambridge, Mirrlees developed a close relationship with famous classicist Jane Ellen Harrison, Mirrlees' tutor and later her friend and collaborator.  Mirrlees and Harrison lived together from 1913 until the elder's death in 1928. After Harrison's death, Mirrlees converted to Catholicism. In 1948, Mirrlees moved to South Africa and remained there until 1963.





Hope Mirrlees was a friend of Virginia Woolf, who described her in a letter as "her own heroine – capricious, exacting, exquisite, very learned, and beautifully dressed."  On the other hand, Woolf’s description of Hope’s cerulean eyes was, apparently, quite catty – meow!  Hope’s circle of celebrity friends also included T. S. Eliot; Walter de la Mare; Gertrude Stein, who mentions Mirrlees in "Everybody's Autobiography" and Bertrand Russell.

Lud-in-the-Mist was reprinted in 1970 in mass-market paperback format by Lin Carter, without the author's permission because neither Carter nor his publishing company could even ascertain whether the author was alive or dead, "since our efforts to trace this lady have so far been unsuccessful."

Why have I told you all this?  Because I have just read ‘Lud-in-the-Mist’ and it has instantly gone onto my list of most wonderful books. I found it on the Co-op charity book stall in Stornoway in the summer and it is the best 50p I've spent in years.


Mirrlees’s language and style are exemplary.  Stand by for some quotations from it in a future blog posting while some of the new or interesting words I have come across in it will find their way into my word blog.

20 comments:

  1. Hay-on-Wye - I am envious! When I was in the UK I heard of the used book shops there and wished I had scheduled into my trip. Have a great time, and Happy Anniversary. I'm sorry to hear that you've been under the weather and hope that you will soon be back on your feet.

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    1. Thanks. Pondside. We've been there before but never without children, parents, etc. and the need to think of the needs of others. It will be just us for the first time in 25 years. Wow!

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  2. I tried so hard to like Lud in the Mist, but though well written it didn't "sing" to me.

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    1. I can imagine it's one of those books that some people just won't take to. I doubt, for example, that my brother, GB, weould like it. Fortunately we all have different tastes or it would be a boring old world :-)

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    2. That's a shame. I've just bought it for the Kindle.

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    3. If I remember rightly, GB, the last time I said you wouldn't like a book you loved it!

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  3. I agree that you cannot have too many books. I will admit that I've been testing a kindle device for the past week and I'm finding it very convenient but I still love the feel and smell of a good book in my hand. The refrigerator is interesting but I still haven't moved into the modern look of stainless steel yet! I hope you're feeling better soon so you can enjoy your trip.

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    1. Thanks Yaya. I love my Kindle. I hope you get as mcuh enjoyment from it if you get yourself one.

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  4. A grand post.....I'll have to look for 'Lud-in-the-Mist'.
    I don't know what an accordion dwelling is. I wouldn't mind that fridge though.
    I hope you are recovered enough to get away...forget the trailer and hire a big van.

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  5. So sorry to hear you've been under the weather. I do hope all is well soon. Take care and God bless, xoxo Carol

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  6. Hope you are feeling much more up to celebrating your 25th Wedding Anniversary and a fabulous trip to Hay very soon, Scriptor - Can't wait to hear all about it.

    Thank you for being so lovely to me, when I am in my cups, too. It means an awful lot to me to have you rooting for me, amid all my madness, badness and dangerous to know-ness...

    And, 'Go Team Badger!'

    Much love and not a kiss in sight!

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  7. Happy Silver Anniversary, John! Obviously there 's a lot to celebrate at your daughter's. Would be fun at the bookstore going by your desire to have a trailer to transport them! Bovine TB! That's scary. It would be a silent killer more or less. Would be interesting to have a look at the book. Though I can't think when I could get one. It doesn't matter! Hoping you'll be ok now. Wishing you the very best!

    Hank

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  8. As always: interesting and eclectic. Love the fridge but I'm a bit concerned about my soup.

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  9. First of all, I hope you are going to be feeling better in a hurry! That trip you have planned sounds like wonderful fun - anywhere with lots of second-hand-book must be a great place! And definitely - take a trailer!

    And thanks for the book recommendation. I ordered a used copy of it immediately. It sounds like a book we'd like.

    xoxo Silke

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  10. Ooops, it seems I haven't put in a comment here yet. This post has me sidetracked every time I get here. First time because it disappeared; then because I went off looking for Lud-in-the-Mist and ended up buying a Kindle; which probably deserves a blog post of my own, which has yet to be written... Now I've forgotten again what else it was I thought of writing here! Oh yes. I'm not sure I'd really trust that gel-fridge... or would like the feeling of sticking my fingers in there!

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    1. I'll feel very guilty if you end up buying the Kindle and don't like it. Mind you, I love it even though I rarely have a 'real' book out of my hands at the same time. Well, almost the same time.

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    2. Ah yes, because that would of course be totally YOUR fault (not!) if I end up not loving the Kindle... Jokes aside, I'm sure that if nothing else it will give me access to an increased collection of books without having to figure out how to magically squeeze yet another bookcase into my flat!

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  11. Sorry you were feeling so grotty but I do see that you recovered enough to take your trip (what happens when I read posts backwards!)Do hope you can retain your increased strength John. Can imagine how frustrating it must be for you. Prayers going out for you right now.

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