steepholm: (Default)
In recent months, as I've mentioned here a couple of times I think, I've taken to working at Coffee #1 on the Gloucester Rd. I like their green tea, and I've got to that stage now where they reach for it when they see me come through the door. That's good in a way, of course, but it occurred to me that I might be becoming predictable, and a while ago I said jokingly to the woman behind the counter, "I ought to have a catchphrase - like, 'Tea me up, Scotty!'"

To my surprise, she found this weak quip highly amusing, and in subsequent weeks I felt honour bound to quote it whenever she happened to be serving. After a while, though, for the sake of my sanity I thought I ought to vary it. "Greet me with green tea" worked for a short while; "The green, green tea of home" was even more ephemeral. I've been through quite a few phrases now, and it's getting desperate. I've got "A green thought in a green shade" saved up for next time, but I worry that eventually I'll run out of mildly amusing ways to order a pot of Jade Tips. Then I'll have no choice but to switch to Rooibos. The horror!

* * *


Obviously I can't help overhearing the people who sit next to me while I'm working at the cafe. It's not that I'm listening in, not at all.

So, today it was a man of about 35 and his 9- or 10-year-old daughter. I was drafting my Annual Performance Review document on a laptop a couple of feet away, but absorbing as that activity was I couldn't help but be struck by her loud claim to be able to "predict the past".

Dad, naturally, plodded out a few clichés about the unidirectionality of time, the meanings of Latin prefixes, and so on. (By this point I was trying to find a way to say how wonderful my teaching has been without sounding boastful - no easy task, as I've recently had occasion to observe.)

Finally, the father said in exasperation: "I refuse to believe that you have access to a non-linear, atemporal mode of being!" His daughter stared back mulishly across her babyccino. Relenting, he added: "Anyway, what do you want for supper? And don't say cheese and pasta!"

"Pasta and cheese," she replied.

Touché.
steepholm: (Default)
Bristol now has a cat cafe. I helpd fundsurf it about a year ago, and today I cashed in with a cup of tea and a brownie, and 9 rather adorable cats:

IMG0247AIMG0266AIMG0269A

Of course, when I got back, Jessie immediately told me that there was catnip on my collar - but nothing happened, I swear it!

This, along with the recent addition of the Bristol Steampunk Museum, has brightened up the Bristol winter - but if you still doubt the city's charms, why not look at it through the eyes of a visiting Japanese film crew?
steepholm: (tree_face)
Bristol now has a cat cafe. I helpd fundsurf it about a year ago, and today I cashed in with a cup of tea and a brownie, and 9 rather adorable cats:

IMG0247AIMG0266AIMG0269A

Of course, when I got back, Jessie immediately told me that there was catnip on my collar - but nothing happened, I swear it!

This, along with the recent addition of the Bristol Steampunk Museum, has brightened up the Bristol winter - but if you still doubt the city's charms, why not look at it through the eyes of a visiting Japanese film crew?
steepholm: (tree_face)
"If you think we don’t care because I don’t tell you much about her you only show that you do not understand people at all."

It's been a rather chaotic few days. The other morning my mother dismounted her stair lift, somehow fell as she turned, and broke her femur. Luckily she didn't hit her head (or anything else) on the way down, so she was able to press the button round her neck that summons help, and a neighbour duly arrived to call the ambulance.

So, she's now in Southampton General. Apart from giving birth, it's the first time she's stayed in hospital in 92 years - and the first 24-hour period without a cigarette since I was born. Naturally, at her age they were nervous about operating, but it went fine, and she seems to be making a good recovery, now plus one steel rod in her leg. I'll be up and down to Southampton quite a bit this week.

Now we're beginning to think, if they can do that for her leg, perhaps they can give her a new hip after all? The only reason they haven't is because they were worried about the anaesthetic, but if it weren't for her hip she'd basically be physically fine, and good for another decade of independent living...

But let's not totter before we can hobble.

In other news, Bristol's first cat cafe is now officially open. I'd put off going because my daughter (who despises my weeaboo-ness) was going to be here, but then she got invited there by one of her friends, much to my chagrin. But, broken legs permitting, I should be there a week today.
steepholm: (Default)
"If you think we don’t care because I don’t tell you much about her you only show that you do not understand people at all."

It's been a rather chaotic few days. The other morning my mother dismounted her stair lift, somehow fell as she turned, and broke her femur. Luckily she didn't hit her head (or anything else) on the way down, so she was able to press the button round her neck that summons help, and a neighbour duly arrived to call the ambulance.

So, she's now in Southampton General. Apart from giving birth, it's the first time she's stayed in hospital in 92 years - and the first 24-hour period without a cigarette since I was born. Naturally, at her age they were nervous about operating, but it went fine, and she seems to be making a good recovery, now plus one steel rod in her leg. I'll be up and down to Southampton quite a bit this week.

Now we're beginning to think, if they can do that for her leg, perhaps they can give her a new hip after all? The only reason they haven't is because they were worried about the anaesthetic, but if it weren't for her hip she'd basically be physically fine, and good for another decade of independent living...

But let's not totter before we can hobble.

In other news, Bristol's first cat cafe is now officially open. I'd put off going because my daughter (who despises my weeaboo-ness) was going to be here, but then she got invited there by one of her friends, much to my chagrin. But, broken legs permitting, I should be there a week today.
steepholm: (tree_face)
My friend Marie was kind enough to invite me and a plus-one to the preview of the Strange Worlds exhibition on Angela Carter which she's curated at the RWA, so last night I went along with my other friend (I do have more than two friends, I hasten to disambiguate), Htay. It's a truly fabulous exhibition, and I highly recommend it if you have more than a passing interest in that old Bristolian, or in unsettling art generally. I saw quite a few of my old colleagues and students too, which was nice.

While I was there, I was buttonholed by a researcher doing a survey on reactions to the exhibition, which I happily gave. At the end there was the usual information about age, race, etc., for their equality stats, and as usual under "gender" they had "Male", "Female" and "Transgender" as three separate and mutually exclusive options - language which mirrors the Equality Act (2010), which habitually refers to "men, women and transgender people" as if there were no possible intersection between these categories.

This is annoying in several related ways. First, it forces trans people to choose whether to erase their gender or the fact that they are trans. Given that choice, I imagine that most (like me) answer according to their gender; but if they want the information for some legitimate statistical reason, the information on the number of trans people will inevitably be rendered inaccurate in consequence. At an art exhibition this is probably of no great moment; but in other contexts it could be used as an excuse for not providing services for trans people because we're too few in number.

But also, it's just such a clunking category error: a bit like saying, "Which is your favourite kind of car? Fiats, BMWs or blue ones?" Trans is not a gender, after all, but a fact about the relation of one's gender to one's body. Logically, they should have boxes marked "trans" and "cis" if they want to collect that information - but that of course would be horribly oppressive to cis people...
steepholm: (Default)
My friend Marie was kind enough to invite me and a plus-one to the preview of the Strange Worlds exhibition on Angela Carter which she's curated at the RWA, so last night I went along with my other friend (I do have more than two friends, I hasten to disambiguate), Htay. It's a truly fabulous exhibition, and I highly recommend it if you have more than a passing interest in that old Bristolian, or in unsettling art generally. I saw quite a few of my old colleagues and students too, which was nice.

While I was there, I was buttonholed by a researcher doing a survey on reactions to the exhibition, which I happily gave. At the end there was the usual information about age, race, etc., for their equality stats, and as usual under "gender" they had "Male", "Female" and "Transgender" as three separate and mutually exclusive options - language which mirrors the Equality Act (2010), which habitually refers to "men, women and transgender people" as if there were no possible intersection between these categories.

This is annoying in several related ways. First, it forces trans people to choose whether to erase their gender or the fact that they are trans. Given that choice, I imagine that most (like me) answer according to their gender; but if they want the information for some legitimate statistical reason, the information on the number of trans people will inevitably be rendered inaccurate in consequence. At an art exhibition this is probably of no great moment; but in other contexts it could be used as an excuse for not providing services for trans people because we're too few in number.

But also, it's just such a clunking category error: a bit like saying, "Which is your favourite kind of car? Fiats, BMWs or blue ones?" Trans is not a gender, after all, but a fact about the relation of one's gender to one's body. Logically, they should have boxes marked "trans" and "cis" if they want to collect that information - but that of course would be horribly oppressive to cis people...
steepholm: (Default)
Well gosh, it seems like days (because it is) since I went to Hyperjapan in London's glamorous Tobacco Dock. I was there last year, of course, and my return visit was strangely similar, with many of the same stalls in the same places - but stepping into the same river twice is no hardship if it's a pretty river. The highlight was perhaps my private photograph with Domo, the NHK mascot:

IMG_20161127_150656

But I was also struck by this Teddy Bear, who was having difficulty getting into the role:

IMG_20161127_123402

And by this texting angel:

IMG_20161127_114444

Given that my father was an art teacher, it's sad that I've never had any facility that way - but this was brought home afresh when I paid £5 for a chance to be a have-a-go hero with a calligraphy brush. I realised belatedly that being left handed was actually a grave disadvantage when it comes to drawing Chinese characters, which demand a certain stroke order drawn in a certain direction (usually left to right). Why I hadn't thought of this over the years of using a biro for the purpose I don't know, but it was only when I got a brush in my hand that I knew how much of a disadvantage my hidarikiki-ness would be. But I can't blame that alone. I also have a very bad visual memory, so that (for instance) my attempt to remember the kanji for "dream" turned into a bit of nightmare - not only infantile in execution but also missing two crucial strokes:

Scan_20161201

Plus, I'm just very bad at drawing. They were nice enough to give me a version of my name, though - with the same "Fruit Poetry" kanji I have on my hanko:

Scan_20161201 (2)

On Monday I was visited by [personal profile] kalimac, with whom I toured Bristol (especially the bookshops, but also of course the Suspension Bridge), and whom I accompanied to Oxford on Tuesday evening for the launch of Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgin's edition of Tolkien's essay on invented languages, A Secret Vice

IMG0199A
[personal profile] kalimac at the Clifton Suspension Bridge

I had to leave Oxford early because (like every week) my alarm was set for 5.45am on Wednesday morning, necessary if I'm to get to Cardiff in time for my first lecture - and it was the same story on Thursday. On Friday I went to Romsey to visit my mother, and returned yesterday. So, this is the first day I've had free to write about any of it, and now I'm too tired to make a good fist of it - but for the record, that was my week!
steepholm: (tree_face)
Well gosh, it seems like days (because it is) since I went to Hyperjapan in London's glamorous Tobacco Dock. I was there last year, of course, and my return visit was strangely similar, with many of the same stalls in the same places - but stepping into the same river twice is no hardship if it's a pretty river. The highlight was perhaps my private photograph with Domo, the NHK mascot:

IMG_20161127_150656

But I was also struck by this Teddy Bear, who was having difficulty getting into the role:

IMG_20161127_123402

And by this texting angel:

IMG_20161127_114444

Given that my father was an art teacher, it's sad that I've never had any facility that way - but this was brought home afresh when I paid £5 for a chance to be a have-a-go hero with a calligraphy brush. I realised belatedly that being left handed was actually a grave disadvantage when it comes to drawing Chinese characters, which demand a certain stroke order drawn in a certain direction (usually left to right). Why I hadn't thought of this over the years of using a biro for the purpose I don't know, but it was only when I got a brush in my hand that I knew how much of a disadvantage my hidarikiki-ness would be. But I can't blame that alone. I also have a very bad visual memory, so that (for instance) my attempt to remember the kanji for "dream" turned into a bit of nightmare - not only infantile in execution but also missing two crucial strokes:

Scan_20161201

Plus, I'm just very bad at drawing. They were nice enough to give me a version of my name, though - with the same "Fruit Poetry" kanji I have on my hanko:

Scan_20161201 (2)

On Monday I was visited by [livejournal.com profile] kalimac, with whom I toured Bristol (especially the bookshops, but also of course the Suspension Bridge), and whom I accompanied to Oxford on Tuesday evening for the launch of Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgin's edition of Tolkien's essay on invented languages, A Secret Vice

IMG0199A
[livejournal.com profile] kalimac at the Clifton Suspension Bridge

I had to leave Oxford early because (like every week) my alarm was set for 5.45am on Wednesday morning, necessary if I'm to get to Cardiff in time for my first lecture - and it was the same story on Thursday. On Friday I went to Romsey to visit my mother, and returned yesterday. So, this is the first day I've had free to write about any of it, and now I'm too tired to make a good fist of it - but for the record, that was my week!
steepholm: (tree_face)
I went to Bishop Road Primary School for the fireworks last night. In light of last week's "Enemies of the People" headlines about the judges (don't they teach them Ibsen in schools these days?), I'm inclined to hum:

When reason is treason
And fingers are freezin’
A dose of nostalgia
Is awfully pleasin’.

Bishop Road Primary, as I've probably mentioned here before, is probably the only school in the world to have had both a future Nobel Physicist and a future Hollywood Oscar winner in attendance at the same time. (One was the son of an immigrant, the other became an immigrant himself.) That was over a century ago, but they still do a mean infant samba (you have to click on the picture to see it):

VID_20161105_173934

And so to the main event. It's not Lewes, but given their burning crosses, etc., that's no bad thing:

VID_20161105_191447

May we all escape being hanged, drawn and quartered for another year, is my heartfelt blessing.
steepholm: (Default)
I went to Bishop Road Primary School for the fireworks last night. In light of last week's "Enemies of the People" headlines about the judges (don't they teach them Ibsen in schools these days?), I'm inclined to hum:

When reason is treason
And fingers are freezin’
A dose of nostalgia
Is awfully pleasin’.

Bishop Road Primary, as I've probably mentioned here before, is probably the only school in the world to have had both a future Nobel Physicist and a future Hollywood Oscar winner in attendance at the same time. (One was the son of an immigrant, the other became an immigrant himself.) That was over a century ago, but they still do a mean infant samba (click on the picture to see it):

VID_20161105_173934

And so to the main event. It's not Lewes, but given their burning crosses, etc., that's no bad thing:

VID_20161105_191447

May we all escape being hanged, drawn and quartered for another year, is my heartfelt blessing.
steepholm: (tree_face)
The Museum of the Mind in Fishponds, on the site of the old Glenside Lunatic Asylum, is only open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. I've been meaning to go for a while, but today I finally got my act together.

Welcome to the Uncanny Valley )
steepholm: (Default)
The Museum of the Mind in Fishponds, on the site of the old Glenside Lunatic Asylum, is only open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. I've been meaning to go for a while, but today I finally got my act together.

Welcome to the Uncanny Valley )

Holy Smoke

Oct. 18th, 2016 08:23 am
steepholm: (tree_face)
On Sunday afternoon I was working in one my habitual cafés, a pot of green tea at my elbow, when I became aware of the smell of burning. So did several other people. Indeed, some us stuck our noses outside and looked up and down the Gloucester Rd., but saw no blaze.

It turns out that it was the smell of St Michael the Archangel on the Mount Without, the gloriously named (but much neglected) church at the bottom of St Michael's Hill, a mile and half to the south, going up in flames. It looks as if the fifteenth-century tower has survived, but not much else.

In happier days....

Holy Smoke

Oct. 18th, 2016 08:09 am
steepholm: (Default)
On Sunday afternoon I was working in one my habitual cafés, a pot of green tea at my elbow, when I became aware of the smell of burning. So did several other people. Indeed, some us stuck our noses outside and looked up and down the Gloucester Rd., but saw no blaze.

It turns out that it was the smell of St Michael the Archangel on the Mount Without, the gloriously named (but much neglected) church at the bottom of St Michael's Hill, a mile and half to the south, going up in flames. It looks as if the fifteenth-century tower has survived, but not much else.

In happier days....
steepholm: (tree_face)
St Werburgh's is just a five-minute walk from my house, by a path between the allotments and the railway line, and (as I think I've mentioned before here) it's quite a different world. An inner city enclave formed by the convergence of several railway embankments, this area of Bristol is almost inaccessible by car - and certainly not a place you would just "stumble across" if you were exploring the city in any conventional way. I've promised in the past to try to describe it, but I don't think I can quite do it justice here. However, these brief entries should give you something of the feel. As you might guess, it's the perfect place to have a Wicker Man event.

I went last night with my friend Marie, and we approached down this long tunnel, which was lit with candles along its length, as one would expect.

unnamed (4)

I wore my horse's head mask, and I'd lent Marie a garland left over from one of my magical jaunts to the Gower last year. Beyond the tunnel, the woodland amphitheatre that the Werburgh folk made for themselves a few years ago had been kitted out with a screen, but first there was a "trail" to follow through the woods. There we came across many an unworldly scene, including a couple of naked women (and one man) making much of a bonfire. They plucked a late apple and offered it to me, and sent us down towards a place where a rather stern priestess was making runic gestures, and occasionally screaming as if she had been kanchoed by the gods. Elsewhere we sat in a roundhouse (a permanent feature) and listened to a really excellent harpist, dressed in something approximating Venetian masked ball garb (she neighed at me as she played, recognising in me no doubt a devotee of Epona). And here and there, lit by red and green lights and hundreds of candles, strange moppets and scarecrows and gibbets abounded, throwing their eldritch shadows against the leafy canopy. The isle was full of noises.

The trail was also punctuated by woodland screens, hung between branches perhaps like the webs of giants spiders, showing clips from 1970s documentaries about the supernatural and paranormal. A Devon dowser demonstrated his craft. A pair of Glastonbury hippies (this was 1970) explained that St Michael's chapel was built on Glastonbury Tor in order to discourage UFO visitations. A Sgt. Howie-ish policeman emphasised that the ritual slaughter of sheep on Dartmoor was just not on.

After a visit to the compost toilet (scatter your own sawdust!) we settled down to watch the main feature in the amphitheatre, cider in hand, and very thoroughly softened up we felt too. Not that the film needs any preparation to work its reliable magic. The final shot of the Wicker Man's head tumbling from its torso to reveal the westering sun was matched by the introduction of flames onto the stage, and a couple of fire workers - half jugglers, half shamanic ritualists - rounded off the evening's entertainment. After which there was a general invitation to the Miner's Arms.

An excellent evening, all told. There's one more evening to go of this event, and if you can go, I highly recommend it.
steepholm: (Default)
St Werburgh's is just a five-minute walk from my house, by a path between the allotments and the railway line, and (as I think I've mentioned before here) it's quite a different world. An inner city enclave formed by the convergence of several railway embankments, this area of Bristol is almost inaccessible by car - and certainly not a place you would just "stumble across" if you were exploring the city in any conventional way. I've promised in the past to try to describe it, but I don't think I can quite do it justice here. However, these brief entries should give you something of the feel. As you might guess, it's the perfect place to have a Wicker Man event.

I went last night with my friend Marie, and we approached down this long tunnel, which was lit with candles along its length, as one would expect.

unnamed (4)

I wore my horse's head mask, and I'd lent Marie a garland left over from one of my magical jaunts to the Gower last year. Beyond the tunnel, the woodland amphitheatre that the Werburgh folk made for themselves a few years ago had been kitted out with a screen, but first there was a "trail" to follow through the woods. There we came across many an unworldly scene, including a couple of naked women (and one man) making much of a bonfire. They plucked a late apple and offered it to me, and sent us down towards a place where a rather stern priestess was making runic gestures, and occasionally screaming as if she had been kanchoed by the gods. Elsewhere we sat in a roundhouse (a permanent feature) and listened to a really excellent harpist, dressed in something approximating Venetian masked ball garb (she neighed at me as she played, recognising in me no doubt a devotee of Epona). And here and there, lit by red and green lights and hundreds of candles, strange moppets and scarecrows and gibbets abounded, throwing their eldritch shadows against the leafy canopy. The isle was full of noises.

The trail was also punctuated by woodland screens, hung between branches perhaps like the webs of giants spiders, showing clips from 1970s documentaries about the supernatural and paranormal. A Devon dowser demonstrated his craft. A pair of Glastonbury hippies (this was 1970) explained that St Michael's chapel was built on Glastonbury Tor in order to discourage UFO visitations. A Sgt. Howie-ish policeman emphasised that the ritual slaughter of sheep on Dartmoor was just not on.

After a visit to the compost toilet (scatter your own sawdust!) we settled down to watch the main feature in the amphitheatre, cider in hand, and very thoroughly softened up we felt too. Not that the film needs any preparation to work its reliable magic. The final shot of the Wicker Man's head tumbling from its torso to reveal the westering sun was matched by the introduction of flames onto the stage, and a couple of fire workers - half jugglers, half shamanic ritualists - rounded off the evening's entertainment. After which there was a general invitation to the Miner's Arms.

An excellent evening, all told. There's one more evening to go of this event, and if you can go, I highly recommend it.
steepholm: (tree_face)
I'm not really a foodie, but last night I went with my friend Marie to a proper posh restaurant, the Historical Dining Rooms in south Bristol. You can find the menu here, which describes what was on offer much better than I could. The main idea, as you can see, is that they make recipes from various numbers of centuries ago - although I should add that the presentation of same is entirely 21st century. I'd add photographs, but ones I took with my crappy phone turned out badly in the low light, so you'll have to make do with me sipping a delicious aperitif in the form of Mrs Beeton's lemonade, heavily dosed (the drink, that is) with oloroso and topped with egg white and flower petals.

IMG0143A

I got the impression that this restaurant (discreetly located above a pub) hasn't yet got the attention it deserves, in part because it's new and in part because it's south of the river. So, if unlike me you're a proper foodie and live in Bristol, do give it a try, and do tell them I sent you. (They won't know what you're talking about, but it will make me feel important.) You won't regret it.
steepholm: (Default)
I'm not really a foodie, but last night I went with my friend Marie to a proper posh restaurant, the Historical Dining Rooms in south Bristol. You can find the menu here, which describes what was on offer much better than I could. The main idea, as you can see, is that they make recipes from various numbers of centuries ago - although I should add that the presentation of same is entirely 21st century. I'd add photographs, but ones I took with my crappy phone turned out badly in the low light, so you'll have to make do with me sipping a delicious aperitif in the form of Mrs Beeton's lemonade, heavily dosed (the drink, that is) with oloroso and topped with egg white and flower petals.

IMG0143A

I got the impression that this restaurant (discreetly located above a pub) hasn't yet got the attention it deserves, in part because it's new and in part because it's south of the river. So, if unlike me you're a proper foodie and live in Bristol, do give it a try, and do tell them I sent you. (They won't know what you're talking about, but it will make me feel important.) You won't regret it.
steepholm: (Default)
Today was the last day of Bristol's annual balloon fiesta, so I got up before 5am and went with my friend Htay to see the morning ascent an hour later. The fiesta takes place at Ashton Court, a stately home owned by the city (as is proper), just on the far side of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Htay and I were far from alone, despite the hour - we had to queue a long time to get in, then joined the snaking throng that was winding its way past the deer park to the balloon field. When we arrived, the balloons were still laid flat.

Balloons below the cut )

Oh, the title of my post? As well as being a reference to David Niven's autobiography it's a literal description of Luke Jerram's latest artwork, which we didn't get to see today, alas, but which you can read about here. Sadly, it burst....

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