Archive for January, 2006

Babette’s Feast

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

I am in the final throes of dealing with the Vikings exam, something which drives me absolutely frantic — there are so many bits of information to collate for each student, for a start. I am also, going in & out on the bus, reading a book about living in Britain during WW II (for […]

‘And would Sir be requiring anything else?’

Friday, January 27th, 2006

The morning’s post was enlivened by a letter from Italy. La Donna Toscana, no less; the well-connected posh girl who has ended up in charge of English Studies at a certain university in Italy where we have friends. The dainty envelope contained two things, an encomiastic review of the Italian translation of the Northern Professor’s […]


Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

Mrs Grey Cat was successfully wormed. This took two humans, three goes, and a great deal of swearing, mostly but not all feline. Her capacity to spit out pills is not unlike that of a Maxim gun; at the third attempt I gripped her round the muzzle (the Northern Professor was controlling the FEET to […]

Unpopular Pills

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

We have had a series of pill crises. Mrs Grey Cat was extensively sick at the weekend, revealing that she has worms. I went to the vet’s for a worm pill — since Mrs Grey is of frightful dimensions she has to have a Drontal ‘XL’ which is about the size of a grenade. I […]

A series of rushes

Friday, January 20th, 2006

This is one of the more difficult bits of the year — end of semester exams, and thus outbreaks of bureacracy and paper-pushing. Teaching is one thing, but this aspect of my trade drives me nuts. I also have books to review and so forth so the blog may go a little neglected until I […]

Miss Kit

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

I spent the afternoon in the garden, planting tulips (yes, I know, shamefully late, isn’t it? But they will come up just the same even if they have sprouted just a wee bit in their paper bags). As is the way with cats, Miss Kit played around me, watching what I was doing. Kind friends […]

That was Then

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

One of the innumerable items to enter the house as part of the Great Burra Project is a copy of Covent Garden Books III: Ballet, 1948-9, which is actually not so much a book as a magazine. It has stuff about Ed in it of course, but as always when an old magazine comes my […]

Jesuit Dictionaries

Friday, January 13th, 2006

There is a peculiar poetry in the listings of Chinese antiquities on eBay. Some examples gleaned recently almost at random:
Charming Chinese Cambridge blue crystal ornament.
Graceful gules trumpet.
Rare lamping superb fair-sounding classical guitar.
Pre-eminent beautiful alto saxophone.
Bell aroma unthinkable pearl necklace.
As with the Chinese medicine packet (which memorious readers may recall from last year) one can only […]


Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

Miss Best Friend, whose horror and loathing of warm sudsy water amounts almost to hydrophobia, inexplicably waddled in this evening to witness my bath. This being a dog normally seen in proximity to a b-a-t-h only with four feet braced at an angle, and dragged by the collar. However, she sat staring at me owlishly […]

The Spreading Stain

Monday, January 9th, 2006

I took a look around the web for signs of twisbies. There were more than none. One of the more suggestive was unsuprisingly, unobtainable. But the bit quoted on Google was, ‘you have reached Umbrella. If you are looking for a happy twisby, press one. If you are looking for a sad twisby, press two […]


Sunday, January 8th, 2006

I was just running an eye over the sea of spam which laps about the ISLAND OF SANITY which is the blog, and encountered a particularly wonderful come-on line: ‘Did you know sex was holly for Indian Americans?’ A thought to pause over but not perhaps to pursue in any detail.

Plumbing the Depths

Thursday, January 5th, 2006

Well, we seem to have sorted out what is wrong with the plumbing. The water comes off the hill, as it has done since 1887, in a lead pipe. For most of the 119 years in which the system has worked, farmers have been dumping lime on the field under which it travels. Lime reacts […]

Twisbeius Twisbeius

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006

The Professor’s god-daughter, in the course of her medical researches, came across an account of a being called twisbeanus twisbus ( surely, today’s twisbeius twisbeius?), in a work entitled Superfluous Fauna (Animalia Superrogata), which from the information given, would appear to date from the seventeenth or early eighteenth century. The catalogue entry describes this […]

A Little Baroque Ghost Story

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006

This is not a seasonal invention in the manner of the late M.R.James. Indeed I am rather off the late M.R. James, at least with relation to his apology for a catalogue of our (noi l’università) mediaeval manuscripts, undertaken without leaving Eton, with predictable and disastrous results. This is a literal transcription from the […]

How do they KNOW?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

I have been worried about Miss Kit for days. To be precise, since Old Year’s Night. On the one hand, she’s been bright eyed, no catarrh, nose pad clean, cold and moist, running and jumping normally, on the other, she’s been off her food, lethargic, and exhibiting a general sense of operating at 85% […]

Philip II as life-coach

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

Our beloved friend the linguist, who came to dinner last night, gave me a history of the Jesuits written by an individual who appears to have been a clergyperson of the Free Church of Scotland. Such a thrilling read, and explaining all those bits of European history which have never made sense to me before. […]

Comings & Goings

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

We received a parcel from our twisby-harbouring friends in Heidelburg (previously resident in Hamburg, as attentive readers of the blog might observe). On opening it, out popped a strange little creature. Half the size of an orthodox twisby; its hide a drably sapphic, greenish tweed. Those were pearls that are its eyes, which gave it […]