Say it isn't so

o tempora o mores

OMG spam from Fortnum and Mason!

I don't think I've ever ordered anything from them online, so how I am on their list I know not - can it be that a shop which has been going for 300 years is investing in lists of email addresses? Woe, Woe, Infamy!

(I was actually shocked! shocked! when I was in Piccadilly for a meeting last week and popped in to replenish my supply of Aromatherapy Associates products to discover that they no longer stock these. What is the world coming to, we ask.)

Apparently it is National Stationery Week.

(Let us pause for a moment to consider the irony of promoting this via email...)

I can see that they have probably long been in the business of providing tastefully bound visitors' books (I am not sure about that eau-de-nil, though) to hostesses, but I note a certain regrettable turn towards the twee:
Quirky pug notebook
Fortnum & Mason Snowglobe - a snip at £50.

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Well, that was quick

Brush the wandering hedgehog dancing

The University of London has abandoned its proposal to auction a rare set of early printed editions of William Shakespeare's plays following an outcry.

We note that whether the sale could have gone ahead anyway is somewhat moot, given that they still had to get it past the Charity Commissioners since it broke the terms of the bequest.

But o the burning irony: 'The money raised from any sale would have been used to invest in the future of the library by acquiring major works and archives of English literature. Because a library which considers flogging off its treasures of Englit Heritage is such an attractive proposition to people who might be thinking of placing their Englit-relevant archives there.

And, as a fellow-toiler in the field remarked, it's not as though there aren't already numerous repositories collecting in that area, some of them of international renown.

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Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

It's the Thomas Hardy Jude the Obscure Experience! (except that it happens after graduation rather than while dreaming hopelessly of Christminster).

Jamie Fox has what is possibly Britain's most dead-end job: he walks up and down a field scaring away partridges and pheasants.

You'd have thought that they could get people to pay for the experience of being living history - spend a day living the Hardy Life! - though perhaps maintaining a regular supply might be an issue. Also, it's possible that some people might be moved, like Jude Fawley, by humanitarian feelings towards the lickle birdiez and let them eat their fill.

But would this not be another ratchet on the grim Hardyesque irony of life? - Jude comes home with his shiny degree and the only job he can get is bird-scarer.

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Boosting a signal

bite me hedgehog

Some site called Friendblab is reposting content from my DW, and is doing the same to others in my dwcircle - and similarly for LJ and IJ, though they don't seem to have picked up my presence on those sites. More details and suggestions for action over here.

In its terms of service, Friendblab ironically claims to be committed to preserving privacy, clearly using those words in a Humpty-Dumpty fashion.

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Hunk-a-hunk of burning irony

Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

Title-fighting: Achebe vs 50 Cent: An unexpected clash between the father of modern African literature and gangsta rapper.

50 Cent is making a movie under the same title as Achebe's best-known novel:

Achebe got wind of it and instructed his legal team to contest it on the grounds that the title belonged to his own 1958 novel.

(Incidentally I have always been given to understand that there is no copyright in titles??)

But anyway, what is the title in contention?


We are, I think, rather relieved that copyright in the UK and EU for the works of W B Yeats expired last year, meaning that this will not be a three-cornered fight of passionate intensity.

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Peter Parker, Isherwood

Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

Have finally finished this, which I have been reading on and off for weeks, because it is a big fat extremely detailed biography, and parts of it got a bit repetitious (Isherwood broods, has writer's block, mopes, has several concurrent affairs while pining for someone who's not there... etc).

It also struck me as ironic that this was a damn great fat book relentlessly piling on the detail about someone whose own works are mostly rather slim volumes, and at their best on the terse and allusive side.

Okay, there are also the diaries, and I was thinking while reading this biography that although the diaries (like the bio) don't give a very flattering portrait, there's somehow a difference between someone giving an unsparing depiction of themselves and someone else doing the thing at a remove in the third person.

There were quite a number of places in this biography where I had the feeling that the author just couldn't bear to omit anything he'd found during his research, and that we thus get rather a lot of information about people who weren't Isherwood himself but who are, such are the vagaries of the survival of personal papers, well-documented.

I also wonder, having written biography myself, of the extent to which the narrative is directed by what survives, and the extent to which equally or more important things fall from view through lack of, or at least sparser, documentation.

It was readable enough to keep me reading and it does have some good insights. (Though, paradoxically, I am feeling moved to reread a couple of the works about which Parker is exceedingly scathing.)

And I rather liked the following, which I think has some pertinence to journaling and venting more generally. Parker describes Isherwood saying something in his diary which apparently blatantly contradicted what he said to a particular person about his attitude towards them:

This was, no doubt, a momentary irritation of the sort people who keep diaries are inclined to commit to paper. Indeed, one of the reasons people always found Isherwood so charming to meet was that he worked off petty annoyances in his diary, draining away accumulated bile and so leaving him free to face the world with a welcoming grin.*

*Though a friend of mine, who, as a young grad student, was taken to meet Isherwood, said that one was made very aware of being in the presence of the Great Writer.

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O the irony

Hedgehog goes aaargh

Does it strike anyone else as deeply ironic that the people who sell items as utterly Now and On the Move as this, nevertheless have a delivery system that assumes that someone is going to be sitting around at the home address of the person who ordered it (because they won't send it anywhere but the address to which their credit card is registered) between 9 am and 5.30 pm on a normal working day?

Welcome to the 1950s...

As I have the day off, am contemplating the long trek out to Zone 6* and the DHL delivery depot to collect the damn thing. (This is particularly annoying since their acknowledgement messages indicated that they were sending it Royal Mail, which is still a hassle for collection purposes, but not to the same extent.)

*Having said which, the relevant overground train service stops at a local station and the journey is about 20 minutes, so it could be a great deal more arduous.

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Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

At the moment I'm not defriending anybody on LJ even if they've moved operations to DW - but if people are posting exactly the same content to LJ and DW I'm removing them from my default reading list on LJ. However, all accesses remain in place.


In other news, [info]elisem is having a SALE of her lovely shiny things. I keep going over there and drooling and telling myself that I should be reigning back the expenses a bit, but I am Very, Very Tempted.


Go down to Kew in lilac-time (in lilac-time, in lilac-time) - wish it a happy 250th birthday and note that it is looking towards the future with 'Kew's ark: the millennium seed bank which will this year hit the target of keeping samples of 10% of all the seed-bearing plants in the world – on track for 25% by 2020. Though am amused that

The bank is at the Royal Horticultural Society's Wakehurst Place, because Thames-side Kew was judged too vulnerable to flooding, or a crash by a plane heading for nearby Heathrow.

That would be Thames-side Kew where The National Archives is situated, yes.

If it were not so long, I would post the lovely section in The Fountain Overflows when the Aubrey family first take Rosamund to Kew.

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Hunka hunka burning irony

o tempora o mores

Have received proofs of an article which is being published in a special issue of a journal produced by The Evil Journal Publishing Empire.

They send, along with proofs and instructions about how to mark up the pdf with any corrections, a form with any queries they have for the author from their side.

Which includes in the relevant space (after their rather whingey statement about plz 2 b citin jnl title krktli) the memorable phrase 'No queires'.

Nuff sed?

Grumbles Not Fair

grumpy hedgehog

I spend a week being rested and relaxed and purged of toxins, etc.

I return to work and pretty much immediately come down with a cold.

However, at the moment it doesn't seem to be that bad a cold.

Also, at least this is a short week.

Though, I also have a late evening duty scheduled today.

So, really, less than cheery.

Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire
Would Jane Austen be able to find a publisher and an agent today? A cheeky experiment by an Austen enthusiast suggests not.

'18 of the UK's biggest publishers and agents' failed to recognise extremely lightly disguised chapters and synopses of Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice, submitted as work by a new author, and universally rejected the manuscripts. Only one noticed the extreme similarities to P&P of the proposal for First Impressions.

Editors, agents, etc, then fall over themselves making excuses.

I think Jane herself is chuckling gently over this.

Don't mock... well, just a little bit then

hedgehog and cactus

A comment turned up today on The Responsibility of the Author post. As I seem to be low on the milk of human kindness today (and the corner shop was clean out), I thought I would post about it here for those who will have missed it. I feel less bad about this than I might since a) it was anonymous and b) insulting to the person to whose comment it was replying.

This is the comment, and this the comment to which it was responding.

Leaving aside the definite sense I get that the Swift allusion has gone winging straight over Anonymous Commentator's head, I decided to unscreen it because, could there be any better illustration of someone galloping straight past the point on their doughty steed Preconceptions, while completely failing to read the words that were actually there?

How meta and self-reflexive is that?

Ironically under the weather

grumpy hedgehog
I should have known that it was fatal to congratulate myself, the other day, that I had got through the winter with very little in the way of colds or flu. As temperatures in London soar to summer levels, have sore throat and slight temperature and had a rather bad night. Am so not dragging myself into work today.

Ironic itching

Spiny sea urchin
It Was Only After The Arrival And Installation Of The New Washing-Machine That She Began To Experience The Results Of The Old Machine's Cumulative Incapacity To Rinse Thoroughly: An Effloresence Of Urticaria.*

*This has been popping up, as it were, over the past week.