Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out with the old

A scan of the corpse and it is time to get rid of the old copy of Delia Smith's Frugal Food - having acquired a copy of the new edition last month - as you see it's been well used - or at least had lots of stuff spilled over it! 70p....

And looking at the inside, it was acquired 31 32 (need to get used to 2009!) years ago tomorrow - New Year's day 1977. The lentil curry, potage flamade recipes were well used and I must revisit the courgette souffle!


Hat tip to Raspberry Rabbit. May your reflections on the passing of 2008 be good!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Last teaser of the year - Dec 30

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

This is from my current book club read:
'Forgive me, but I thought of you directly I sighted that cloth, for the green is the colour of your eyes.'
I felt my face flush, and my vexation at blushing made my cheeks and throat burn all the hotter.
Geraldine Brooks 'Year of Wonders' The story of the plague at Eyam which is fairly local to here...I'm currently finding it gripping.

120 years?!

It probably won't go down well on a Sunday morning with all the profanity...HT to NT Wrong

Surreal peppermints?

Modern art? HT to Lindsay Marshall

Monday, December 29, 2008

I _am_ the administrator

I'm trying to install Adobe Air on this Mandriva/Linux/FSF system to try the BBC iPlayer. Tried the various links from the BBC page and the Adobe Air phase just seemed to do nothing. So followed these instructions, and I get this message:

I tried running it as root and then as myself when it asked me to enter the root password but still the same result. I am the administrator, I'll go and talk to myself for a bit...but I think I need a bit more work to get iPlayer up and running!
(the suggestion I found on googling of closing down firefox first, doesn't work for me, I suspect it might want use of audio, tomorrow will try immediately after a login so nothing else will - I hope - be getting in the way)
Later (31st Dec)... I've tried logging out and in, tried it with kde rather than my preferred blackbox desktop, tried rebooting and again with both kde and blackbox, so at the moment I'm stuck, maybe a little more googling?
And again... Mandriva 2008.1 (which I'm running) comes with firefox 2.x.x, I've previously installed firefox 3 but with a tarball and in my home area, I guess Adobe Air is looking for firefox 3 and when it doesn't find it stops with that unhelpful message. I've now added the main backport repository and installed the firefox 3 rpm and now Adobe Air installs correctly! (a good diagnostic would have been so much more helpful!!!)

Christmas Music

.. but only if you feel brave! rmcr has pointed me to this web site with details of a recording of Foster Jenkins (dramatic soprano, not to be confused with Katherine Jenkins star of stage, screen and radio?) and 11 of her rivals. It has musical(?) extracts and I'm still shaking after listening to the Tosca extract. The order page unfortunately appears to have vanished.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Free Associations

And this week's words from Unconscious Mutterings are:
  1. Destined :: Chosen
  2. FAIL :: Blog
  3. Camping :: Kenneth Williams
  4. Only you :: deserted
  5. Incessant :: rowdy
  6. Tomorrow :: Is Another day
  7. Impressive :: erection (that was a building - honest, Dr Freud)
  8. Riches :: gold
  9. Dislike :: getting the goat
  10. Speaker :: Woofer

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cooking in difficult times

My mother has a copy of Mrs Arthur Webb's 'War Time Cookery - published 1939 (reprinted 1940), she clearly didn't hang about. There's this to give the flavour:
Casserole of cucumber -
  • 4 small cucumbers
  • 1/2 lb of sausagemeat
  • 3/4 pt of stock
  • 1 turnip
  • 3 carrots
  • 6 small onions
  • seasoning
I don't have the precise method here but she does recommend removing the cucumber seeds before cooking.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Christmas!

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals
unoriginal sorry, back to the posting soon! (weblog post no 1000!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

getting a bit late now...

..but here is the wonderful Trinity Wall St Advent calendar.

for Christmas Eve

Poulenc's wonderful Christmas Motet O Magnum Mysterium

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Well while everyone else has been preparing for Christmas - or not! - I've spent the past 4 days, seems like a week, rushing around helping to resurrect the work web and email server. It died with a dead disk on Friday. I do recommend warrick for recoving those lost bits of websites, it goes to various web caches and puts your site back together as they claim it was.
Anyway, in all the kerfuffle I missed the news on Friday that the Church Times blog mentions that the Scargill trustees hand the Scargill movement have agreed:
We are now pleased to announce that agreement has been reached between the Trustees of Scargill House and those representing the Scargill Movement for the purchase of Scargill House. This is subject to contract, survey and the approval of the Charity Commissioners. We value your prayers for the speedy exchange of contracts, the future of the Scargill Movement and the proposed Foundation of the present Trustees.
Sounds like good news!
On a more parochial level the household Christmas letter is here.

Monday, December 22, 2008


(bit late now..) here's one of the sets of words I was trying to find from earlier in the month
Everyday it snows an inch or two,
Muting the music in the pines.
Old music.

Snow holds back the dawn-
an extra minute of lying here
while the self sleeps on.
again from Twichell's Snow Watcher.
And for a slightly different comment, here's Ivor Gurney's Sleep:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

And more conventionally

St Michael's choir
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall's the choir in front of the tree

.. and behind the tree

.. and behind the tree
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
After this evenings carol service spotted the reflection of the tree in the bank's windows announcing sales and insecurity.

this weeks inkspots

And this week's associations
  1. Carpet :: Persian
  2. Bottoms :: Tops
  3. Music :: Life
  4. Nails :: Cross
  5. Watch it! :: No!
  6. Your life :: Big red book
  7. Candies :: indulgence
  8. Chafing :: blisters
  9. Svelte :: not a hairy man
  10. Ding :: Dong
This month has just been hectic - sorry - doubt if it will improve until next weekend!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Late Presents?

Well there's always this - it probably only has key bindings I already know on it though! Now if it had copy-to-register (and the converse), it would be of more interest - I used to know where they were, when I had a memory, they've moved them and I'm lost!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Search engines

Couldn't resist a vanity screenshot of the top search strings which lead people here (not that there are many of them). I won't quote them to avoid skewing figures further but there seem to be a fair range of subjects but maybe nog__ the n__ is what those seamen get up to on those icebound ships?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Manchester Theological Society

I meant to get to the December meeting of the Manchester Theological Society but have missed it - moved laptops and I'd forgotten I had various reminders on the old one. Intend to go to the January meeting on RS Thomas! Looking at their website I found this mention of a rather old meeting!!

I'm not going to that one!

Teaser Tuesday once more

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

Water has its own kind of darkness, its endless equivalence. Brine too needs its badges of state. It sinks, this net, silently and stressfully, the banner for an army of armies.
Oops that's three sentences from Lawrence Norfolk's The Pope's Rhinoceros. Picked this up at a charity shop and although second hand it appears unread. 100 pages in and I'm beginning to see that it could be infuriating but I'm practically breathing in the North Sea. This at 700+ pages is a long read but 16th century Eaurope has always fascinated me, there's also an interesting link with my Teaser of Last Week!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A study in claustrophobia

.. and conscience. To the Silk Screen (middle of last week now) to see The Last Days of Sophie Scholl strongly recommended, moving, uplifting tale of resistance to Hitler and Nazism. I never knew that placing leaflets in a hallway could be so full of suspense. The resistors are arrested and the sessions between Sophie and her interrogator were fascinating with no doubt as to who was the stronger party (the one in the totally vulnerable position).
I felt there were echoes of Fidelio hanging around but maybe that's my reaction whever I see something German, mentions of freedom and prisoners entering sunlight?! But no prison visitor appeared like a rabbit from a hat. See it, if you haven't already. It appears to be based on transcripts hidden in East Germany - I'd be fairly disappointed if the interrogations were wholly made up!

First things

Can't tell France from Mutter (a second go at word associations)
  1. Travel :: train
  2. Expensive :: trains
  3. Backspace :: error
  4. Traffic noise :: comforting
  5. Now see here :: no
  6. Vegetables :: Paris
  7. Chat :: French cat
  8. Your calling :: difficult
  9. Weekly :: Punch
  10. Oh! :: La La
I think these were all the first thing that entered my head, started off ona travelling into work theme and ended up (mostly) across the Channel

I used to knit

David Shenton thinks it is probably more complicated than IT! Somewhere a few months back in this blog there's a photo of one of my more complicated knits, ah, here it is!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Do

The Choice Bar
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Work Christmas do was at the Choice Bar - looked very nice. I wasn't totally enamoured by the organisation though - some of the food was less than hot and I, at least, never got asked about an after dinner coffee. Lots of food though which arrived promptly on a busy evening. More photos here(the first five- couldn't be bothered to make an extra tag!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I seem to have fallen further behind with advent postings. I went into the garden yesterday but all the pictures had terrible camera shake (or something), I thought I was doing ok. So while you wait for me to get myself together, here are a couple of Adventish resources:

Incompetence or censorship?

Two examples from this week, first we have Berlusconi's 'wonderful' RAI's screening of Brokeback Mountain which managed to broadcast a censored version without the icky gay bits - but still had a heterosexual sex scene. They claim they broadcast a version meant for family viewing in a later evening slot.
And then we have a teacher confiscating Linux disks from school children claiming that it must be pirate software, writing the following to the distributor:
This is a world where Windows runs on virtually every computer and putting on a carnival show for an operating system is not helping these children at all. I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older verison(sic) of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them...
boggle! This appears to be real but - as above shows a stunning level of ignorance (whilst claiming to have used Linux at college!?) I'd like to cry fake but I fear not!

Amarok 2

Amarok 2 has been released. I drooled over the the pre-release incorporated in Mandriva 2009 (but without actually running it). Having installed it on my Ubuntu system, yes, it still looks wonderful. Not sure about the current state though! There's some screenshots here. There's various spiffy new features, but I'm rather attached to some of the old ones - like playing cd's I don't want to always have to rip the cd first - I'm hopeless at deleting the files afterwards and it does fill my work laptop up. And then there's stopping after the current track - I want to finish listening when the current item is over and not now!
For the moment I'll be sticking with amarok 1.4 but maybe peeking a look at the new interface now and then!

Streams of consciousness

This might be fun! Via JoysWeb and from Unconscious mutterings
  1. Love affair :: Romeo and Juliet, facebook
  2. Bubble :: bath (just had one), gum
  3. Pimple :: teenagers
  4. Knocks :: school of hard
  5. Persistent :: c++ classes (don't ask)
  6. Infected :: Windows
  7. Yay! :: Americans
  8. Repaint :: Windows (oh dear)
  9. Daily :: milkman
  10. Quickly! :: hard scales

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tuesday Teaser again

Teaser Tuesday
The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

And non-fictional this week:
This is the letter of an exasperated woman, but not of one who is afraid to speak her mind. And indeed Francesco himself, in his better moments, had come to admit that in household matters his wife's judgement was as good as his own.
Iris Origo's The Merchant of Prato hard nosed commerce in the Middle Ages.

(yes I know I promised a review of The Book Thief - which I've now completed - the book not the review!! - I'm working my way towards it!!)


A day off tomorrow to sort out the start of a Christmas letter, some presents, and maybe marking Messaien's 100th birthday. If you're searching for present ideas David Shenton has a wonderful cartoon


early morning
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Approaching Oxford Road Station (well it would be if there were a train there)

And this poem from a gravestone in Ely Cathedral in memory of 2 deaths on a railway in 1845. I don't think I've seen the actual stone but I was certainly given the postcard with a certain twinkle in David Isitt's eye.

The line to Heaven by Christ was made,
With heavenly truth the Rails are laid,
From Earth to Heaven the Line extends,
To Life Eternal where it ends.
Repentance is the Station then,
Where Passengers are taken in ;
No Fee for them is there to pay,
For Jesus is himself the way.
God's Word is the first Engineer,
It points the way to Heaven so clear,
Through tunnels dark and dreary here.
It does the way to Glory steer.
God's Love the fire, his Truth the Steam,
Which drives the Engine and the Train;
All you who would to Glory ride,
Must come to Christ, in him abide.
In First, and Second, and Third Class,
Repentance, Faith, and Holiness,
You must the way to Glory gain,
Or you with Christ will not remain.
Come then poor Sinners, now's the time,
At any Station on the Line,
If you'll repent, and turn from sin,
The Train will stop and take you in.

And as a result of searching for that poem, I found this page of railway related music.
(Yes I know I've lost a day, I do hope to catch up!)

Noggin the Nog!

Part of my childhood has just gone. That inimitable voice...with the death of Oliver Postgate. I wonder if I still have that knitting pattern for a clanger? According to the Guardian
The Clangers was also a subversive show in the fact that the language of squeaks spoken by the characters contained, to those in the know about how the sounds translated, numerous expletives that would have got the programme banned if delivered in standard English.
Bagpuss was after my (childhood) time.

Don't all rush at once

I do hope you're not going to sign this

Monday, December 08, 2008


A second head of Changing Attitude Nigeria has been granted asylum in the UK. The Changing Attitude press release says:
The LGBT members of CAN do not believe that they can safely come out and reveal themselves to their priests, let alone their congregations. They fear that their own priest will not offer them counselling and prayers but will react negatively to them. The problem they would bring to their priest is in any case not the problem of their homosexuality, but the problem the church has with homosexuality. They do not want to come to church for help to be changed or healed. LGBT people know, as Archbishop Akinola does not or possibly cannot know as a heterosexual man, that we do not need healing from our innate, God-given sexual identity. We long for the church to learn “… what it is that the Lord requires of you: only to act justly, to love loyalty, to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6.8
Inevitable after the attack on him this summer, but speaks volumes about the warped version of the Christian faith held by some Nigerians - and given impetus from the top.


A discussion on slashdot leans me to LOLCODE, with wonderful code extracts such as
there are also python implementations. Looks like they need a set of regexps for emacs HILITIN though - obviously a gap in the market I need to fill (unless I've missed it on that site).

Hello not the man familiar to me!

(from a recent SPAM) I think (huskily) 'Hello stranger' might sound a little better. other wonderful examples of fractured English in that email included:
At first I wish to be present.
Here I am(?)
At first I thought that it expensively for me but then I thought and solved that money for me it not important that I want to be happy I want to love I want to have the relation and I want to have a happy family and I gave this one thousand rubles. ...
Only I ask you at once look at the photo esteem the letter think and solve precisely would you like to have correspondence with me? ...
It is possible I ask you very fragile person if want to have serious relations write me tell me If you are not necessary to you I will understand you. And still I wish to speak to you, on a photo turned out not so well as professional but you see me such as I look in a life. And you can precisely define such woman as I is necessary to you or not.
If you are not necessary to you I will understand you. ... well precisely
I hope they're not reading this in order to make a comprehensible email.
The email culminated in a docx(!) attachment.
Unfortunately gmail doesn't have a way of preserving it apart from marking it as non spam, maybe I should just forward it to myself?

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Berries peeping over the wall of a block which has been abandoned and is up for development.
and testifies
how best beauty's born of hardihood

(Sylvia Plath Mayflower)
..probably the wrong colour!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Out in the yard

Garden pot
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
..this morning
I'm preaching tomorrow and I said these words 3 years ago when speaking about the same set of passages (Mark 1, 2 Peter 3 and Isaiah 40)
Advent - coming - that means change, adventure.
When thinking of the origin of the word 'Advent, comes from advenire (Italian) to happen, happening - a very 60'sterm how do we deal with change/happenstance? We want to change others
but do we want to change? What has brought me to where I am today, maybe God, maybe what has been done to me, what am I going to make of it, what is God going to make of me?
I wouldn't be surprised if some of those words appeared again tomorrow.

Winter morning

Winter morning
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Weather wasn't good yesterday, so two for the price of one today!
The dark future in the winter morning, with Astra Zeneca dominating the town.
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

But where does the town go now?

Kitten exercise

via B3TA

Friday, December 05, 2008

They've arrived!

Get your Christmas presents from the Ship of Fools Kitschmas awards!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

And then there's cat poems

Mad Priest has a classic, though we'd prefer it if there were a mention in it of Traidcraft jute angels - something to which one of ours (long passed away) was devoted.
Beware of that blog, it carries an alarming picture of me (wearing a tie!!)

The market place

In the market place this evening, all the snow gone
I raised the mountains for you, and set the streams
Running down the hills for love. I saw the moss grow

Kathleen Raine Parting

Eating out

To celebrate my being unable to remember the date of my book group, we went out this evening to Fina a new restaurant which has opened within staggering distance of home.
I much enjoyed the antipasto and the linguine with prawns and courgettes - I'd recommend the place, nice and central too for Christmas evening shopping afterwards.
My back didn't like the chairs, but that is probably my problem!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Where do I sign up?

The Register reports:
Italian president and media baron Silvio Berlusconi said today that he would use his country's imminent presidency of the G8 group to push for an international agreement to "regulate the internet".
Berlusconi didn't explain what he meant by "regulate the internet", but the mere mention of it has prompted dismay among Italian commentators. Berlusconi owns swathes of the Italian mass media.
The left-wing newspaper L'Unita wrote: "You can not say that it is not a disturbing proclamation, given that the only countries in the world where there are filters or restrictions against internet are countries ruled by dictatorial regimes: those between China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia."
La Stampa reports Italian bloggers are planning to protest against any move by the president to tighten government control over the web tomorrow. They plan to display anti-Berlusconi banners on their websites.

Not found any banners yet. But with Mr B's power over his home media, one fears for any influence that any rules he had a hand in framing, whatever the ostensible trigger. I hope the rest of the G8 aren't his useful idiots.

Red and White

.. not my photo but taken, this week in our garden:
and from Mark Doty's wonderful 'My Alexandria collection:
..suspended white cargo sifted
equally all night onto roofs
and lilacs, fenceposts and streets.
We're the shook heart of the paperweight

the glass village falling forever
through the steady arms
of the snow, which touch us,
each pair, just once.

(Advent Calendars)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tuesday Teaser

Not had one of these for a bit...
Teaser Tuesday
The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

Here's mine:
Once words had rendered Liesel useless, but now, when she sat on the floor, with the mayor's wife at her husband's desk, she felt an innate sense of power. It happened every time she deciphered a new word or pieced together a sentence.
Markus Zusak's The Book Thief - need to finish it tonight!! Wonderful but feels rather similar to 'The Reader'

Over the void

Well that's how it feels in the half-light of a cold morning:

(yes I know the picture doesn't show the drop!) and
letting the stream
Comb me, feeling it fresh
In my veins, revisiting the sources
That are as near now
As on the morning I set out from them
RS Thomas H'm

Not what I was intending but I'm having book finding issues!

Monday, December 01, 2008


It's a few days ago now that we saw Persepolis at the Silk Screen. As the Guardian reviewer says:
When I tell people it's a lo-fi animation, largely in black-and-white, about Iran, they put their heads in their hands and make a low groaning sound. But I've seen those same people bounce happily out of the cinema after seeing it as if they had had some sort of caffeine injection.
Lots of whimsy(!) and, as the introducer at the screening said, Posy, unfortunately that wikipedia article doesn't have a single cartoon of hers, so try here and here. I did wonder whether the tale of growing up as a young lady in Iran was getting a little one sided and perversely at times started to feel sympathy for the religious authorities. I gather it has been shown in Iran - with some cuts for sexual content - I wonder if they cut the doctored version of Primavera?!
And on the subject of growing up in Iran, here is a view which challenges a few western stereotypes! (hat tip to Elizaphanian)


Venice - and the few posts in that blog after (i.e. later) than that.

Christ Church

Christ Church
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall

Cheating (already!) slightly, as I took this picture yesterday morning. And something dark to go with it:
No other sun has lightened up my heaven;
No other star has ever shone for me:
All my life's bliss from thy dear life was given -
All my life's bliss is in the grave with thee.
Emily Brontë Remembrance