Thursday, March 27, 2008

Off Again

Off to France for the Wedding of the Year and concomitant Patroclus family get-together, where guests will include Nibus, Albert and other fine bloggers of yore.

Back in a few days, unless I feel a terrible compulsion to liveblog the joyous proceedings.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's Our Kitchen, But Not As We Know It

The house that Mr BC and I are renting is on the market at the moment, which means that every so often an estate agent turns up at the front door with some hapless individuals he's talked into having a look at it.

I can tell they're hapless stooges because they usually spend less than ten minutes looking around, and sometimes they don't even look in all the rooms. (This is fortunate because one of the rooms contains the cat's litter tray, and it isn't usually a joy to behold.)

Yesterday, though, the estate agent brought round a bunch of people who seemed hell-bent on looking into every nook and cranny of our beautiful home. The lovely Mr BC and I arranged ourselves prettily in the living room and pretended to be part of the furniture, while the estate agent reeled off his spiel about lovely light rooms, easy-maintenance flame-effect gas fires, and so on.

Having craned their necks up the chimney and down the backs of the radiators, the viewers then filed off into the kitchen (glorious limestone floor, underfloor heating, state-of-the-art range cooker, blah blah blah).

'All these things are staying,' we hear the estate agent say, 'including the dishwasher'.

Mr BC and I look at each other.

'What's he on about?' say I. 'We haven't got a dishwasher.'

'Probably desperate to sell something,' agrees Mr BC. 'Credit crunch and all that. They're just making up any old rubbish.'

Later, after they've gone, Mr BC and I go into the kitchen to start making the dinner.

'I can't imagine where he thought he'd seen a dishwasher,' I say.

'No, quite,' says Mr BC. 'I mean, this is a cupboard, this is a cupboard, this is under the sink, this is the fridge, this one's just a false front...'

He tugs at the false-fronted cupboard to prove his point. To our amazement, it swings open, revealing two slide-out plastic shelves, a plastic cutlery holder, a slot for a dishwashing tablet and a control panel.

We both silently contemplate the hours we've spent over the last four months washing up acres of plates, mugs, saucepans, cat's saucers, clagged-up roasting dishes, food processor components and the like. Hours that we could have spent playing Bioshock, or watching Boston Legal, or making beautiful love.

'You still have to rinse the stuff anyway,' says Mr BC eventually.

'Yes, and you have to buy powder and salt and things. It's a hassle.'

I put on the washing up gloves and start running the tap.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Class Consciousness

Occasionally I get a sort of dim realisation that I may be posher than I think I am.

The other day I genuinely caught myself saying, without the slightest hint of self-mockery: 'no, by the time we moved to the house with the music room I didn't have the ponies any more'.

Still, I'm sure that when little Jemima is old enough she'll enjoy rifling through my childhood collection of Patricia Leitch books. While sitting in the music room, probably.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Patroclus And Mr BC Discuss...Incunabula


PATROCLUS and MR BC are watching woeful climate-change disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow. The film's young heroes are holed up in the New York Public Library, weathering the sudden onset of the new Ice Age.

YOUNG HERO: I found a copy of the Gutenberg Bible downstairs, in the rare books section.

MR BC: Rubbish. The Gutenberg Bible is in the British Library. Where it belongs.

ME: Surely it belongs in Gutenberg.

MR BC (charitably overlooking the fact that he is clearly going out with the middle-class Jade Goody): I think it's called that because it was made by a Mr Gutenberg.

ME: Well Germany somewhere.

MR BC (consulting Wikipedia): Hm, it says there are actually 48 copies, in libraries around the world.

ME: I suppose that was kind of the point of the whole enterprise.

MR BC: What was?

ME: To have more than one copy.

MR BC: Apparently one of them *is* in the New York Public Library. Bugger.

On screen, a wave of super-cooled air descends from the troposphere, causing a skyscraper to turn instantly into a massive block of ice.

ME: I think you've uncovered the only realistic plot point in this entire film.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A List Of Lists, How Meta

List fever seems to have overtaken the media this week, what with the Observer's 50 most powerful blogs* last Sunday, the Guardian's top seven poets (analysed here by Mr Footman), and now - oh, the irony! - the Independent weighs in with a 'hilarious' list of the 20 most boring Britons.

Clearly it's not just bloggers who like to resort to a nice list when there's space to fill.

Also, I thought that 'screaming drag-iosity' was something else entirely.

* Which managed to miss the point that it's the collective, collaborative nature of the blogosphere as a whole that creates its power, rather than it residing with any one individual blog...tsk, back to social media school for you, Observer...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

News From Blogworld

Good things I have seen in the blogosphere lately:

1. Occasional Poster of Comments's new photoblogging project, in which he reveals the semi-secret quirky side of Falmouth (where all some of the best bloggers live).

2. Meanwhile, Tara does the same for Washington DC at DC De Facto.

3. James at The Ink has the definitive list of tips for good blogging, painstakingly collected from bloggers the world over.

4. On Wild Cat Island, Semaphore invites us in for tea and reminiscences about Swallows and Amazons and the rest of the Arthur Ransome oeuvre.

5. Billy and Betty make their feelings quite clear about the Observer's list of THE 50 MOST POWERFUL BLOGS EVER. Join the - ahem - fray.

PS If anyone can tell me how to make my header picture (mmm, lichen) expand to fill the entire space provided, I would be most grateful. Assume zero understanding of Photoshop and only the feeblest grasp of the GIMP.

Monday, March 10, 2008

So, The New House, Then

I may inadvertently have given the impression in the previous post that Mr BC and I are on the verge of purchasing a stately Georgian country house, around the extensive grounds and ornamental lakes of which Mr BC plans to disport himself proprietorially, attired in riding britches and a billowing white shirt (and very handsome he would look too, if this were ever to transpire), while I sit prettily at a variety of elegantly proportioned windows, wearing an empire-line frock and either playing the piano or daintily embroidering another fire screen.

This, I hasten to clarify, is not the case.

The new house (I'm aware that just saying this practically guarantees that the whole thing will fall through within days) *is* quite ancient, although in Jane Austen's day it would probably have been inhabited by a family of chandlers, tallow-merchants, chandlers' mates, apprentice tallow-merchants, etc. It dates from the mid-18th century, apparently, but it's built on the site of a much older, early medieval town, so the minute we (hopefully) get in there, I'll be out in the back garden in my rainbow jumper scratching at the soil with my dibber and trowel in search of vestigial middens and potsherds, like the GIANT ARCHAEOLOGY GEEK that I am.

I spent a good part of my formative years round at my Granny's house covetously reading out the property descriptions in Country Life (it's saying things like this that makes me feel I will never successfully be able to pretend to be from the ghetto) to anyone who would listen. Since every single property description in Country Life begins with the phrase 'Grade II listed' (and usually ends with the phrase 'stabling for six horses'), I developed very early on in my life a profound desire to own a house with this designation.

So while I was idly perusing the description for The New House, a primordial longing was rekindled in my (currently ampler than usual) bosom the moment I clapped eyes on the 'Grade II Listed' bullet point. In practice, all it means is that we can't replace the front windows unless it's with slavishly authentic, artisan-made reproductions, which will be never, as such windows no doubt cost A MILLION POUNDS each, so the living room might be a bit draughty. But then, as the living room is haunted, it's bound to be draughty anyway what with the chill spirits of the departed hanging around like eerie palimpsests of a forgotten past, so that's OK. I think.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Super Things I Have Bought

1. A new purse. This is the first time I have owned a purse since the unfortunate incident with the car window and the motorway in 1983, so it's something of a momentous occasion. So momentous, in fact, that for a moment I wished there was a way I could contact my mum on the Other Side to let her know that at the grand old age of 37 I have finally taken my first laminated, floral step towards adulthood and maturity:

Now, if only I had a handbag to keep it in...

2. A new house. In an elaborate plot to avoid ever again having to speak to the estate agent in front of whom I embarrassed myself the other day, I managed to persuade the lovely Mr BC that we should buy a house through a completely different firm. The owners accepted our offer yesterday, hurrah!

There's no chaundry or victualling room*, and one of the rooms is haunted (either that or the bad vibes are emanating from the horrible fireplace), but these are small prices to pay for the fact that the house and its immediate surroundings would look quite at home in a BBC adaptation of Jane Austen.

I have no doubt that my middle class guilt and self-loathing will kick in at any moment (especially as, unable to contain my Inner Tosser, I've ordered a hand-painted Farrow & Ball colour chart) but until it does (or until the purchase inevitably falls through), I reserve the right to do a joyful little dance around the living room.

* Although I am planning the almost immediate addition of a downstairs garderobe.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday Afternoon Disco Of Doom

If you've ever dared to dream about what the glorious result might have been if the gene pools of Goth and Disco had ever accidentally become mingled, then dream no longer.

This is quite the most brilliant - and possibly the only - example of the goth-disco crossover genre, and I can't stop listening to it. I think the 'bow bow bow bow bow' bits (from 0:52 to 1:13) are the best thing I have ever heard, ever.

John Maus - Rights For Gays (m4a)

Absolutely no idea what the song is going on about, but I'm crossing my fingers and hoping it isn't homophobic, because that would be a terrible waste of what is clearly Musical Genius.

Also, on this evidence, it would appear that John Maus is a more than worthy candidate for Private Eye's Pseuds' Corner, but that can be excused. Mainly because of the 'bow bow bow bow bow' bits.

Bow bow bow bow bow!

More where that came from at Amazon.

Proof, If Any Were Needed, That I Am A Div


The phone rings downstairs.

ME: (answering it) Hello?

WOMAN: Hello, is James there please?

ME: He's out I'm afraid, can I take a message?

WOMAN: It's [insert name of estate agent] here. James wanted to make an appointment to a view a house in [insert name of recently slightly poshed-up harbourside village].

ME: Did he? I don't know anything about that. Shall I ask him to call you back?

ESTATE AGENT: Yes please. It's 373595.

ME: But that's well out of our price range!

ESTATE AGENT: That's our phone number.

ME: Ah.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Waiting For Blogot

If the thought of watching paint dry gets you all out of breath and hot under the collar, you might like to join me in the infinitely more relaxing pastime of Waiting For My Dad To Post Something On His Blog.

Dad - whom some long-term Quinquireme readers may remember under a different name (different from his real name, I mean: I should hope that almost all of you remember him as something other than 'Dad', unless there are things he isn't telling me) - has lured me in with promises that his blog will contain erudite, multilayered pontifications on subjects including, but not limited to, the music of Beethoven and urination, but so far all it comes up with is 'No Posts Match Your Query'.

Anyway, here it is. He's had it for almost a month already, so maybe the act of my unveiling it will actually prompt him to write something.

UPDATE: Heh heh, that seems to have done the trick.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Separated At Birth

#2 in a woefully occasional series.

Exhibit A: Financial Times advert, as seen today on Charles Frith's blog.

Exhibit B: Caprica City, capital city of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol.

Either someone at the FT's ad agency is a Battlestar Galactica fan, or the world's financial centres are all shortly about to be nuked by Cylons. I'm not sure which scenario I prefer.

UPDATE: Although come to think of it, since Battlestar Galactica is an allegory of a post-9/11 world in which culturally imperialist Westerners *are* (possibly) the Cylons, this may be more subversive than it first appears.