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.
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.