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Hope And Promise

Candlemas, Wednesday 2nd Feb: low sky, mist and dropping rain clearing, grey squirrel looking exactly like a giant furry caterpillar, head down at the tip of a perilous twig stealing birdfood from a coconut shell. Robin blackbird thrush hedge-sparrow wren, blackcap garden warbler, great tit, blue tit, goldcrest (only one, this winter so far) goldfinches, greenfinches, starlings. Not counting jackdaws street pigeons wood pigeons (fat iridescent throated caterpillars, hoovering up the berries from a matted clump of ivy) and collared doves. . . I did not take part in the RSPB garden birds weekend survey, I think people with cats that go outside are barred, but I'm amazed at the variety of birds managing to survive in our gardens, despite the cats, the tree rats and the ground rats. They keep their wits about them and take advantage of being able to fly, I suppose.

I wish I wasn't old enough to have seen flowers tucked in gun turrets before now. I wish I couldn't remember 1979 (Iran, fall of the Shah), and 1991, (darkness at dawn for Russia). Not to mention what happened to the original Spirit Of Eighty Nine. Modern History is such a tissue of cliches! Demonstrations good. No major political reform can be achieved without the support of dedicated, single-issue Non Violent Direct Action. Mass Market bad. But when the millions on millions pour out into the streets,it will be the most power-hungry of the disparate groups, and therefore the most ruthless and oppressive, that leaps to fill the power-vacuum. Knowing what's all too likely to follow, would I have been out in Tahrir Square, decorously headscarved and shouting for joy? Of course I would. There's always a first time.

Actually my money's on Mubarak hanging on, like Mugabe. We're in a blocking system.

Watching: Splice, last night. (Warning, Spoilers) Lunatic nerd gender-essentialist Canadians descend into hell. I hoped this would be Blood Music by David Cronenberg but it ended up being Okay-not-great verging on absurdly predictable. The moment when two naked mole-ratoid synthetic lifeforms decide to go for each other in a territorial battle, and corporate Big Pharma gets engulfed in a wave of blood, goop and tank water; that was fun. The moment when doe-eyed Clive returns to child-abuse survivor Elsa, having been caught getting sexually active with the pubertal (but chronologically about three months old) ersatz little girl they made. And he's like "What are you looking like that for? Okay, I raped a toddler. So? It's not like I contaminated the polymerase chain reaction or anything" had a certain crazy charm. Everything after that point was desperately ho-hum. Still, we got those cool, Guillermo de Toro bouncy satyr legs. Compares extremely poorly with Species, 1995 "trashy" treatment of the same material (except the dodgy DNA is from ET, not lab built); where the reproductively predatory transgenic humanoid female definitely gets out more, and does not have to become male before she gains a voice, achieves her aim, and becomes really powerful.

Reading: The Bone Woman, Clea Koff Gripping. The details of how you unearth incontrovertible evidence of a genocide are relentless, the viewpoint is personal. I picked up this book because I thought I don't know enough. I don't know enough about Burundi, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo: about the supersized crime, genocide, which now seems to have defined the twentieth century, from first to last. The Bone Woman isn't about causes, but I'm learning. Don't read this if you prefer a tear-jerker. It isn't a tear-jerker, it's an account of the gritty, smelly everyday grind involved in forensic proof, when murder has been committed on such a scale. The squabbles, the discomforts, the grumbles about the UN (that cranky, stumbling old mothership). And the stubborn, unsentimental good will of some amazing people determined to bring the victims of genocide to light; to bring them home.

Les Aiguilles Rouges take the keynote photo spot, because it's that time of the year. No matter what happens to the weather from now on, the light has turned. Twigs and trees have begun to glow, birds have begun to sing and winter is on the downslope. There are plans to be made, and my plan is that I'm going to walk into that picture, this July.