Monday, July 30, 2007

I’ll always be proud to be British

How can I not be when we have our very own Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain?

Major Clanger reports that at a recent folk festival he heard them performing Anarchy in the UK, Smells like Teen Spirit, Shaft and Life on Mars. Tracks you can download (a snip at £1 each) on their website include:
  • Wonderful Land (well, of course)
  • Should I Stay Or Should I Go
  • Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
  • The Dambusters march
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Teenage Kicks
Alternatively you can listen to extracts of the above. Wuthering Heights is done in a bass, Johnny Cash-type growl which is really quite surreal.

I love this land.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Bless my cotton socks I'm in the news

Actually I’m not but I’ve always liked that opening line.

I am however mentioned on Ship of Fools, invaluable online resource “for people who prefer disorganized religion to the organized kind”. I have arisen in a discussion thread on the subject of Harry Potter. Someone has approvingly linked to my thoughts on the matter as reflected in Harry Potter & the Flawed Arguments.

Apparently I’m not a ConEvo, I’m an MoR Anglican. So I’m not only mentioned, I’m mentioned with jargon. I feel I have arrived. Somewhere.

If you go touring Ship of Fools generally, check out their caption contest as it’s very funny and one of the submissions has an esoteric Dr Who reference.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Life and the lack of it the seventeenth century

The register of burials in the village of Lamplugh, Cumbria from 1656-1663 is available online. Don’t ask how I know, I just do. In this period 57 people died of old age and 76 died of more, um, creative causes. One broke his neck robbing a nest. Seven were hanged for “clipping and coyning”, which I’m guessing is forgery (the register was written before the discovery of spelling). Four choked on their food.

Then it starts getting, frankly, quite funny. Other causes of death include: duels (weapons in one case being a 3-footed stool and a brown jug); freezing to death in church (11! Not known if all at once or separately); drinking the squire’s wife’s cordial water; being set upon by the squire’s dog; and attacked by the parson’s bull. And my personal favourites: “Frighted to Death by faries: 4” and “Died of a fright in an Excersise of ye traind bands: 1”.

And not at all funny, of course: “Old women drowned upon trial for witchcraft: 3”.

Harry Potter and the Unexpected Apathy

I’m half way through Deathly Hallows – the Godric’s Hollow scene, for anyone who knows what that means – and I’m astonished to find ... I'm not that interested.

This is unprecedented. I’ll be the first to admit Harry Potter has never been great literature, but one thing it has always been good at is keeping the interest. After the first chapter of the first book – and I read this long before the hype with absolutely no idea what was to come – I couldn’t put it down. I broke a lifelong rule with Goblet of Fire and bought the hardback edition, as this was the first one where we all knew in advance someone was going to die and I guessed that if I waited for the paperback then I would have learnt who. (Once I did learn I felt distinctly let down.)

But for this one, I’ve suddenly got to the point of not really caring.

Could it be that the series has just banged on for too long? It could certainly have been over more quickly. Rowling chose to write a novel for every year of Harry’s secondary education – which just happens to match Muggle secondary education in the UK, i.e. there has to be seven books - but she could have done it in less. The fun thing about creating your own world is you make up your own rules.

Even if the series couldn’t have been got through more quickly, the books certainly could, and this might also be the reason. The first two books were short, concise and gripping. Thereafter a distinct lack of editing started to show. Rowling of course was under huge pressure just to get them written and her publishers were under ever more pressure to publish, and it shows. I’m sure she put as much professional time and effort into the last book as she put into the first, but the fact is, the process has been rushed. I’ll bet good money her later manuscripts didn’t come back with red ink all over them saying “this is long winded. Tighten it up.”

A very handy rule for writing is that you enter each scene as late as possible and leave as soon as you can. Don’t have someone open the door, walk into the room and start talking (unless of course you need it for tension or other purposes) - just have them start talking. Leave as much as possible to the reader’s imagination. A master of this is Dan Brown, which is why The Da Vinci Code was so unputdownable despite being Differently Good in many other respects.

Deathly Hallows, on the other hand, is constructed along the lines of “they did this. Then they did this. Then they did this.” Harry, Hermione and Ron spend a long time wandering aimlessly around the country with no fixed plan. And this is a good thing, in story terms, showing that they’re vulnerable and not superhuman and letting some interesting cracks develop in their relationship. But just because their experiences are long and wandering and aimless, doesn't mean the writing describing it has to be.

Still, there’s hope. The Godric’s Hollow bit had a pleasant twist and maybe things will start happening. I know we’re gearing up for a big battle with a last-scene-of-Hamlet-type casualty list. My prediction is that everyone dies except Dobby.

If I try very hard I can probably remember what I was doing for Christmas 1997 ...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Silver linings

The emergency services have quite enough on their plate at the moment, but even so, it's fun listening to some of the time-wasting calls they've been getting.

Marvel at:
  • the woman who is a bit psychic and thinks a friend will have an accident
  • the man who can't get his pound coin back from the supermarket trolley
  • the woman complaining about not being able to hear the TV due to her neighbour's noisy engine
  • the man worried that a hedgehog with its head stuck in a pot noodle pot is going to be run over
And more.

If only they would network. The psychic lady could have told the bloke with the trolley not to waste his money. TV lady could go out and rescue the hedgehog instead. And so on.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Happy anniversary! (We've been flooded)

I am so glad this didn't happen a year ago. In fact I'm also quite glad it didn't happen while we were in Hereford as I would have been quite miffed to miss it.

For every event like this there's a law that there should be an old codger who can remember the last time. Our local old codger (I believe the law requires them be stationed at distances of not more than one mile) says it was 1947. So, there you are.

Picture taken at 7.30 this morning, when the water was lovely and clear. Really quite beautiful, though now brown and muddy due to all the cars driving through it. There was already a high water mark at the end of the driveway, two feet from the waterline, showing how far it had got in the night. (The basement flat got flooded via the back route because the water treacherously came up the drain.) Friends and neighbours in the more immediate danger zone say the police were coming round at 3 or 4a.m. to clear them out, and someone on BBC Oxford living not too far from here reports water up to the level of his garden table. But we're secure in our second floor flat, and even if the electricity and gas fail then we will power the household devices through our own smugness.

We've been very lucky with water so far. We had two sunny days in Herefordshire, and to judge by the news we got out just ahead of the tsunami that went on to engulf the area between the Welsh Marches and the Cotswolds. Meanwhile a colleague from work reports that she spent two hours on Friday getting home due to floods in Steventon; an engineering friend stuck in the same traffic queue says there was "a lovely hydraulic jump right down the road." Just shows that to those with eyes to see there is always something to appreciate.

(Oh, and should anyone murmur that maybe I should have been kinder about the Thames in yesterday's post - well, so far it's the Ock that's flooded. The Thames may follow when Oxford's floodwaters reach us ... but that will just prove my point, as there's no better judge of character than how well someone can take a joke.)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wye oh wye

Face it, the Thames is an old has-been. Oh, it looks very grand and sedate in places, but if it didn't flow through our nation's capital, would it be famous? It's been tamed. It has the Thames Barrier and it's lined with locks and the so-called Thames Valley is a broad flood plain with mole hills on either side. After London it's boring beyond belief.

The Wye, now, that's another matter. It tolerates us but no more than that. Its waters are dark and slow. Its banks are steep and overgrown, even where it deigns to flow through a town. It's a national boundary for a large part of its route. It defines the very nature of its region because anywhere that is anywhere is on it. And it has a gorge. Yeah, baby, a gorge.

Put it this way - if I was a pagan, I know which river god I'd be sacrificing my firstborn to.

So that's where we started - drive down to Chepstow, turn right and up the Wye valley, wooded slopes and limestone cliffs towering above us. First stop, the ever delightful Tintern Abbey where the sun shone on the ancient stones and swifts buzzed about within the skeleton of the old church like miniature Me.109s. Lunch, and onwards past Monmouth to the Violette Szabo museum, which turns out to be part museum and part shrine - a one-lady enterprise run from a small building at the end of the garden of the house where Violette's aunt and uncle once lived. The one lady in question is the kind that you suspect Violette might have become if she hadn't been executed at a young age in Ravensbruck. 'Indomitable' is one word that comes to mind. 'Bats' is another. But it's a labour of love into which she has poured huge amounts of effort, a worthy tribute to a very brave woman, and it's not an experience to miss.

Then, finally, Hereford, skirting the outskirts to head out to Credenhill where we used to live and where, 300 years earlier, poet Thomas Traherne was rector. A small detail that completely passed me by back then. What also passed me by at ages 9 to 12 was how beautiful the whole area is, shining gold in the sun while the Tolkeinesque Black Mountains line the southern horizon.

Then onwards to find our hotel - clean, quiet and cheap, which is all I really ask for in a hotel, and dedicated to redressing the disservice it feels the hotel trade has dealt to short people over the years. Maybe the owner is very short and a tall person was once rude to her. If I was standing up then the rule of thumb was to duck, because if the light fittings didn't get me then the door into the bathroom would, or the shower cubicle as a last resort. Our bed was, I suppose, technically a double, in that you could get two pillows on it side by side. Just. I like to feel close to my wife after nearly a year of marriage, but sheesh.

That evening and the next day - Hereford! Which has hardly changed at all in the last 30 years. Well, here and there, obviously. Some fool has moved the cathedral a couple of hundred yards to the end of Broad Street, when I know it used to be opposite the Green Dragon hotel. Possibly the same fool, flush with success at his undetected fiddling, moved the Market Hall from the south side of the High Street to the north. Said Market Hall is a bit like Oxford's Covered Market except, as Best Beloved wisely pointed out, it contains reasonably priced items that you might actually want to buy. Less tourist trap, more actual market. Then outside and down the street to the old town house museum, the sole remnant of an ancient Hereford street that has been kept like a 17th century black and white timber home. And of course, the cathedral. Still not quite my favourite cathedral - you'll have to try very hard to knock Salisbury off that perch - but with many points in its favour, not least of which is free entry. Salisbury technically has free entry if you can find it within yourself to walk straight past the ticket desk soliciting recommended voluntary donations, but at Hereford they don't even hint at you. You pay for the tower tour but it's worth it, climbing up inside the walls to reach fantastic views out over the surrounding countryside.

Thirty years ago, as far as I remember, you could also get to see the chained library for free, and the Mappa Mundi just hung vaguely on a wall. Nowadays they've been moved into a custom built library of their own, for which you have to pay. So, no Mappa Mundi.

And all the while the sun shone beautifully. Come six o'clock, everything closing but not quite ready for dinner, I proposed a drive out to Dinedor, venue for many Sunday afternoon outings when I was young. An old iron age fort, like Credenhill itself, but more accessible; overgrown and wild but in a safe sort of way with footpaths and nooks and crannies and the potential for spotting hobbits.

(A thirty-year flashback; I could show Best Beloved the place where my father once parked the car on a steep slope, facing down, on a cold and icy day. His cunning plan was that to reverse out, he would position a ground sheet beneath the rear wheels. I would stand on the ground sheet to weight it down and the sheet would give the wheels traction. Eventually he worked out that I didn't keep falling over out of perversity and I wasn't being wilfully non-massive; there was just an inherent flaw in the plan that had to be worked with. He got the car back up, somehow.)

As we walked, admiring the views through the trees, the first misty spray began to play on our faces. We gazed across the vale and saw the Black Mountains dissolving into rain. Slowly but surely the rain grew harder ...

... and, 23 hours later, it has yet to stop. Today we were going to drive home via Goodrich castle, another popular childhood attraction, but it really didn't seem worth it, so we just came straight back.

Ooh, do you know, I think I see blue sky in the distance. Oxfordshire was obviously worried that it had lost us and is welcoming us home. And if it weren't for, you know, things like career and a child at a local school approaching his GCSEs and this being where most of our friends are, that worry might have been within reason.

A boy and his Eagle

I have fond memories of Hereford, and not just because in the great lottery of a childhood spent moving house every 2-3 years, that happened to be where the first Stirrings of Adolescence(tm) began, manifesting in am enhanced appreciation of Sarah Jane Smith on Dr Who, an unbearable itch in the back of my mouth that I now know was my first hayfever symptom, and an inability to get to sleep if I read anything at bedtime that even mildly hinted at sex, like a James Bond novel.

But the happiest memory of all is me and the Space: 1999 Eagle Transporter. The series (of which less said the better) had just started on TV and Eagles were the cool toy. There was one in Hereford that I wanted. I wanted it so badly. But alas I had no money and my parents took a dim view of state subsidy. Oh, what was I to do?

Astonishingly it was my godfather who solved the problem. This hardened SAS veteran of conflicts around the globe came to stay, and presented me with - I think - the AA Book of British Birds. Or something very like it. He hadn't thought to check whether we already had one. We did, but were too polite to tell him.

Instead, after he was gone, my parents bought if off me at the full RRP. Five pounds! Five hundred new decimal pence! All mine! More than enough to buy the Eagle, and a couple of books, and (the best bit) buy myself a return ticket on the bus in from Credenhill so that I could do it all on my own.

Capitalism, independence, adventure and science fiction, combined. If you can think of a more fulfilling rite of passage then I don't think I want to know.

Anyway, Hereford. That's where we've been for the last couple of days. More will doubtless follow shortly.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Aagh! Mind melting

Are squares A and B the same colour or different?

They are the same. Impossible, I know, but trust me, they are. To test it I sampled both squares in Photoshop, and they're identical. They each have CMYK values of C=57, M=48, Y=44 and K=11.

This is obscurely known as the same colour illusion.

Excuse me, I see a wall I must go and bang my head against.

Wasn't keen, but ...

Okay, maybe I will watch the next series of Torchwood after all.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Clannad going round in my head for some reason

Robin Hood famously fought in an archery tournament where his opponent scored a dead bullseye, whereupon Robin got his arrow so in the middle of the target that that it split the shaft of the arrow previously occupying said bullseye.

Bu I bet he never did this - got his arrow between the strap around the edge that holds the target together, and the target itself. And this after only six tries, the first five of which didn't even hit the target at all. Yup, I think I score over one of England's greatest folk heroes, personally.

Afterwards, for a bit of variety I thought I'd practice actually hitting the target and bunching my shots together. This is about as good as it got ...

Anyway, a social event last night courtesy of the Harwell archery club. Come the great plague that wipes out civilisation, plan A (assuming I'm a survivor) had previously been to head for the homes of various people known to me who have fully legal, licensed and declared firearms for hunting purposes. That might now be knocked back to plan B, while plan A becomes to raid the supplies store of the archery club. It's closer to home, the stores are easier to replenish, and you can reuse the ammunition almost indefinitely. I'm taking the long view on how long it will be for civilisation to recover.

But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, and meanwhile enjoy the nice bruise that has developed along my inner left arm between elbow and wrist. My forearms are just too manly and muscular and the bowstring kept hitting me there. It's a cross I must bear.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Da na naaa, da-na, na!

Once upon a time, children, there were only three TV channels. (Actually, progress back and you can logically say there were once only two, then only one ... but, with Channel 4 finally appearing when I was 17, for the bulk of my childhood there were only three.) And as the amount of TV actually worth watching over any 24 hour period has stayed pretty well constant, it follows there was a lot more worth watching on those three than you will find on any of the 1001 channels now available.

And few things were worth watching more than The Professionals. You have to understand the ritual to appreciate this fully. I was at a boarding school; TV was rationed to the weekends only. (Plus the weekday Nine O’Clock News if you were a sixth former, or Not the Nine O’Clock News for everyone by special permission.) The Professionals was on Saturday evenings, usually after some ghastly sporty drivel like Rugby Special. So you staked out your chair in the TV room at least 30 minutes early (=30 minutes of ghastly sporty drivel to tolerate, but it was worth it). If you were junior enough that you were only up because of the extended Saturday evening bedtime, you got into your pyjamas and dressing gown first.

And CI5’s finest burst onto our screens: Bodie (tall, taciturn, the cool one) and Doyle (slim, edgy, obviously embarrassed by the whole business but then never dreaming he would one day be a high court judge). Ah, me. Forty five minutes of Ford Capris screeching around the suburbs of London. Testosterone charged manly beating up of bad guys. Flirting with birds who actually seem to turned on when men with bubble perms call them “luv”. And let’s not forget the civil liberties routinely trampled into the dust in ways that would make DCI Gene Hunt green with envy.

Happy, happy days.

All brought back by watching an episode on ITV4 last night. (See, I didn’t say that the quality of modern day channels had declined per se – just that it’s spread much more thinly.) I must have seen this first time round because I remembered a couple of lines. Bodie and Doyle, having collected a valuable antique desk for their boss (what else would you do with a pair of highly trained killers on your payroll during a slack period?) inadvertently spook a couple of kidnappers, leading to an exciting car chase in a Ford Cortina taking turns on two wheels with an antique desk on the roofrack. The inevitable happens and jokes are made about “she’s lost her drawers”. A hostage situation ensues, leading to the discovery of industrial espionage at an armaments firm.

“But we have the highest possible security!” barks the firm’s CEO. “All our top secret documents are stored in this safe!” Points at safe. “And I have the only key!” Produces key. Bodie takes key, sniffs it, smells plasticine. The key has been copied! Oh noes!

A few years ago one of the satellite channels tried to do a Next Generation job with The New Professionals, which I never saw but I gather it never took off beyond a single season. Well, no, some things are sui generis and can never be repeated. If we want ethically dubious intelligence work today, we have Spooks. If we want blokes running around a lot and beating people up we have Life on Mars, but to get past the modern audience it has to have a key character who thinks that the beating people up bit might not be strictly necessary. That’s what makes The Professionals so special. It’s a time capsule, a product of a time when you could have both ethically dubious intelligence work and blokes running around etc. and you could get away with it.

Yes, The Professionals belongs to the time that begat it, as does Martin Shaw’s perm, which is believed to have eloped with Tom Baker’s hair into a parallel universe with enough dimensions to contain them both. But last night made me remember why those 30 minutes of Rugby Special were so worth it.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Curtains. We has them.

For the last week we've been sleeping without curtains, which less than a month past midsummer is an interesting experience. I had never twigged the full implications of being on the second floor and facing west, until we looked straight out at the roseate fingers of sunset finally loosing their grasp on a darkening sky, with Venus (I think, or maybe Jupiter) staring straight back like an unwinking eye. Over the silhouetted antennae of the police station. Oh, poetry, thy name is Ben.

It's meant either getting changed by streetlight, or coyly squeezing into a corner out of glimpsing range of the main road. It has also meant wearing airline masks to block out the light, which mean you sleep so deeply you wake up feeling much more groggy than usual, and with a sweaty face.

But now the decorator has done his work and we have fully functioning windows, painted, where the glass stays in, and curtains hanging in front of them once again. We have normality.

So, is the endless saga of the windows, which goes back I think to March 2006, finally over?

Well, we still have to clean them ...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Movies good and bad

Both boys alone this weekend, as Best Beloved was away. Not the first time we've been apart since we got married, but the first time I've been the one who has stayed behind. Interesting experience. Almost but not quite exactly unlike being a bachelor again. The whole flat is different and there's this teenager hanging around like he knows me.

So those of us who stayed behind decided that on Friday and Saturday we would watch movies, one each of our choosing. For Friday he chose ... oh dear, oh dear, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

Wow. I honestly cannot remember the last time I watched a film with such a total absence of comprehension. Or, as it went on, interest. Maybe it would have helped if I had played the game it's based on, so could recognise when characters from it start gratutiously popping up. Or maybe if I had watched Final Fantasies I through VI. In fact, I think I did see one of them. V: The Spirits Within, which I'm told was rubbish. Well, maybe, but I do recall quite liking it and it had esoteric concepts like character and dialogue and humour and ... what's that word ... ah yes, PLOT.

It's not the first time I've watched a movie and not understood it. Let's see. 2001. Blade Runner. North by North West. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. But for each of those, I was either too young or there were layers to peel back; either way, each one has grown and grown and grown with repeated viewing.

I don't claim the gift of prophecy, at least not much, but I will prophesie that Final Fantasy VII will very rarely be mentioned in the same breath as 2001, now or ever. Unless the breath is to utter a sentence like "Final Fantasy VII is less good than 2001."

So what was my movie, I hear you cry? The Last King of Scotland, a fictionalised look at the reign of Idi Amin through the eyes of the young doctor whom he makes his personal physician. Doctor made up, dictator decidedly real.

There's nothing that gives me the willies more than African soldiers with guns. It's very unfair because there are African countries where there's nothing to be scared of at all about a soldier with a gun. There are also far too many where fear is a very wise emotion, and Amin was a big contributor to this. It's fair to say we Europeans well and truly screwed the African continent over in several different ways, but the worst crime of all that we committed was to impose European-type power structures that enable people like Amin (or Mugabe or Bokassa or ...) to seize power and hold it, rather than just be overthrown and quietly bumped off as would have happened in the normal scheme of things.

Anyway, the movie. Immediately written off by the Boy as boring, of course, but it grew on him - not just because of the sex and violence (which might have helped) but it really was fascinatingly disturbing to watch Amin grow more and more bonkers. Or rather, to watch his pre-existing bonkersness become more and more apparent. The young doctor is sucked into Amin's world because he's bored of the mundane life treating diseased children at a mission. He's flattered by the attention, he enjoys the prestige. He is not a likeable character at any stage of the movie but as his mistakes pile up, culminating in one ghastly blunder, he gets a kind of redemption. And the whole movie is a fascinating look at the subject of power - uses, abuses and temptations of.

Anyway, Best Beloved returns this afternoon and normal service will resume. The West Wing and Rome ... quality stuff!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

You were warned

I did say an image might follow.

It's the sword that does it. Without it this would just be a bloke in a miniskirt. But with a sword at your side, one hand possessively on the hilt, then you can swagger. Oh, yeah.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Goddess wanted

I'm sorry, I'm about to poke very gentle fun at a faith that is not my own. If this offends you, turn away now.

From the BBC:
"A 10-year-old girl who is worshipped as a living goddess in Nepal has been stripped of her title for defying tradition and visiting the US."
Apparently 10-year-old Sajani Shakya was one of the three most-revered Kumaris, who are honoured by Hindus and Buddhists alike. Duties included blessing devotees, attending festivals until she reached puberty, and only leaving her palace three or four times a year.
"Elders said the visit had tainted her purity, adding that they would now begin the search for a successor. "
It must be very handy to be able to fire one of your gods if you consider them not up to scratch. I would have said it kinda detracts from the "god" bit of being a god, but then, what do I know, child of the Judeo-Christian monotheist tradition that I am.

Plus, it seems a bit harsh on the US. I have my issues with the current administration but by and large it's a lovely continent with lovely people. My god mixed with all types of people, including foreigners, and died on a rubbish heap. Never did him any harm and I believe he still holds the position.

This presumably creates a vacancy to fill, which is easier said than done.
"Tradition holds that she must hold 32 attributes, including thighs like those of a deer and a neck like a conch shell."
Lack of a passport also an advantage.

More seriously, there's a montage of pictures of little Sajani's home life available on the same BBC page, and smiles - quite common, unusually, among 10-year-old girls - are conspicuously absent. Nepal's Supreme Court has ordered an inquiry into whether the Kumari tradition has led to the exploitation of girls. Retired goddesses find it hard to find a husband as they are associated with bad luck. It stops being funny.

But, sheesh, they say we'll believe anything ...

Up ... since ... five ...

And until 9.30 pm last night we thought we were doing so well.

Some of the reputtying on our reinstalled windows is not great. Or indeed existent. So we went to B&Q, we got some glaziers’ putty, we went home, we very carefully dismantled our living room window – the smallest of all the ones needing work – we laid the two halves out on the kitchen table, carefully squeezed putty into the gaps where it was needed, smoothed it down, gave the windows a wipe ... I tell you, we were pretty proud after all that. Took the better part of an evening all told, but hey, we were working together. Husband and wife. A team.

The reinstallation didn’t include repainting, either. A few days ago we booked a decorator, tentatively for later this month with the proviso that he would come earlier if another job fell through. And at 9.30 pm – just as we’re completing the reassembly, quietly self-satisfied and ready to think about maybe a cup of tea and then turning in – he phones up to say that he can come today at 8.30.

Oh. Bloody. Hell.

There’s nothing like a bit of warning for removing curtains, packing stuff up and general clearing away. Sure enough, this was nothing like a bit of warning, so cue a frantic hour of removing curtains, packing stuff up and general clearing away. Then to bed, then up at (yup) five this morning for yet more removing curtains, packing stuff up and general clearing away. Five o'clock! I didn't know there were two of those in a day. This must be what it’s like having small children.

So ... very ... tired ...