Archive for June, 2003

Anti-Hot-Spot Tape

Monday, June 30th, 2003

The Geordie Ambassador has been engaging in tact and diplomacy, which is a bit like seeing an elephant coming towards you on rollerskates. The charm offensive was self-evidently in aid of something and eventually we found out what it was. A Polytunnel. For the benefit of any urbanites who may have wandered into this blog, […]


Friday, June 27th, 2003

As the Scottish Professor has explained (in ‘The Souls…’), Barnyards very kindly gave us not only the slates off the ramshackle old stable, but some of the stone, including a date-stone. The Geordie Ambassador and Dr Biswell set it into a stone coping today, which they have run along the visible side of the utility […]

Of the Day Estivall

Thursday, June 26th, 2003

Summer in the Deep North is precious, fragile, and temporary. For the last couple of days, the sky has been deepest blue, and the sun has blazed down; it has been light at ten, not wholly dark by midnight, and dawn by three. In these conditions, everyone goes slightly crazy and finds excuses to be […]

The Souls of Domestic Quadrupeds

Thursday, June 26th, 2003

Reading Jon’s remark on the pleasure given by domestic animals and its relation to the loan to them of a scintillum of soul I was reflecting that this is a theory which I have heard advanced: that you lend to a loved animal some element of yourself which implants soulness in them. The Lady Novelist […]


Wednesday, June 25th, 2003

‘Modern business’s addiction to buzz words and jargon is losing firms millions of pounds a year, according to Deloitte Consulting. The words might sound impressive, but if nobody can understand what you are talking about, everybody loses out. Deloitte has devised a computer program which it claims can seek out and destroy corporate double-speak and […]

Hero Stuff

Tuesday, June 24th, 2003

We are in the middle of trying to rebuild the bothy in the garden –– a bothy being a species of rough and ready accommodation for young male farmworkers (the quines lived in the house where the mistress could keep an eye on them). It is a bit of a mystery, since it is […]

H.P. Sourcery

Sunday, June 22nd, 2003

I have now read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which is doing some quite surprising things. The narrative constraints Miss Rowling labours under have necessitated her giving young Harry an adolescence characterised entirely by rage, which makes him a bit more of a pillock than one was expecting in a boy […]

That Boy

Friday, June 20th, 2003

I’m hoping to have the new Harry Potter tomorrow: since about 3,000,000 people are hoping the same thing, some of us are going to be disappointed. I haven’t given much thought to the boy wizard since the last Harry-fest, but in the run-up to the new one, I find myself struck once more by the […]

Brotherly Love

Friday, June 20th, 2003

The Northern Professor has gone off to Downside to give the Lady Priesthole Memorial Lecture, or thereabouts. Apart from the good monks, he is expecting a fine turnout of Old English Catholics. We hope to get him back in a couple of days. The whole set-out and the conversations which ensued in the process […]

Boring Postcards

Tuesday, June 17th, 2003

Nobody can recall exactly when or under what complicated set of circumstances a copy of the Taschen Boring Postcards book first floated into the house. Hundreds of Boring Postcards are lovingly reproduced in riotously offensive Technicolor, and the book is refreshingly devoid of introductory text, commentary or any attempt at formulating an aesthetic of the […]

Lord Bute

Tuesday, June 17th, 2003

The household maintains an extensive and peculiar collection of pelargoniums, eight-foot-tall ones in the greenhouse, a foaming heap of double white ones in a huge pot, and two windowsills full of individual plants of more normal dimensions. Most of them have flowers of the eyewatering pinkish-scarlet which is characteristic of the species, with just a […]

Tasteful Biscuits

Monday, June 16th, 2003

This blog has not turned into This is merely a passing reflection on biscuit semiotics. The Scottish Professor and the Lady Novelist visit Venice quite often, and it is far from unknown for us to be seduced into Tonolo’s, which our friend the Dottoressa claims (after having made exhaustive and lengthy comparisons) makes the […]

High Rise Gardening

Sunday, June 15th, 2003

Or rather, un-gardening. It became clear to the household last week that a small but apparently thriving colony of plants had established itself in the gutters, some twenty-four feet above ground level. It was equally clear that, following a central SPAB* mantra (look after your Rainwater Goods and your house will just about look after […]

Water Sports

Sunday, June 15th, 2003

The other day the Real World Consultant very sweetly sent us a dehydrated fountain – i.e. just add water. In fact, a small pump, to be built into the water feature of one’s choice, the idea being to make the greenhouse still nicer. We have followed this up with enthusiasm; there is a local garden […]

King of the Rocket Men

Friday, June 13th, 2003

When Dr Biswell was at the watching Dr Who from behind the sofa stage of life, a Sixties serial came round on the timewarp – those being the days when programmers thought ‘Kids’ll watch anything’ rather than the immediately subsequent era dominated by persuading the gullible young to howl for a Care Bears lunch-box and […]

Dragon’s Heartstrings

Thursday, June 12th, 2003

The Northern Professor is taking a course of Chinese Medicine. The Chinese have their own way of doing things: ten or twenty years ago, I more than once encountered a mildly medicinal tisane in Chinese supermarkets which advertised itself in terms suggesting that the translator had used a sixteenth-century Jesuit Chinese-Latin dictionary in conjunction with […]

More Than Just a Fitted Kitchen

Wednesday, June 11th, 2003

This line is a mildly disquieting development in the world of half-truths which is advertising. BA on their advertisement at Dyce Airport claim to be ‘More Than Just an Airline’, an ambulant van we meet on the road once in a while contains, or so it says, ‘More Than Just a Fitted Kitchen’. Wherein lies […]

Blue Poppies and Absconding Cats

Monday, June 9th, 2003

Like black swans, blue poppies have the slightly hallucinatory effect of something which meets and confounds expectation at the same time. Take your basic associations with the poppy, large thin, satin-shiny petals emerging from a sort of pod like a butterfly from its chrysalis, blazing colour on a thin, hairy stem. Remove from your mental […]

Shepherd’s Purse

Sunday, June 8th, 2003

A weed – in fact, one of the innumerable weeds which have fountained out of the earth after three weeks of alternating rain and sun. As a result of all this, Dr Biswell has been hoeing the potatoes under the lash of the Geordie Ambassador like something out of a film about Life before the […]

The Trotters

Sunday, June 8th, 2003

This saga started, like many a good tale, in a pub. In the course of a mis-spent youth, some details of which now escape me due to age and respectability, I can dimly recall more than one episode involving long nights, promises made, and/or foreign bodies present in the morning, but I can at least […]