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The Abundant Lake: An Illustrated Post

Thursday 14th July, mild silvery overcast warm sun, a still morning. The keynote is a video of Gabriel playing young composer Alex Drosos's The Abundant Lake, a very cool piece, cool water, abundant numbers if that means anything to you (Gabriel's dad very pleased by the mathematical connection), the performance was for Alex's final.

Monday we walked out in the evening, from Woodingdean along the Juggs Road track to Castle Hill, down through sheets of vivid rosebay willowherb and between walls of bramble to the flowers and butterflies in the combe, out the other end past the old lost damson orchard, up again over the hill & down the Bostle path and the lane into Rottingdean, under battalions of swifts to Kipling's garden and a sojourn at the Black Horse, which was rather gloomy and very quiet, and back along the undercliff walk. A very still evening, an old-gold three-quarter moon in a mist, the sea hardly making a sound, gracile black-headed gulls, (a pleasing change from the brutish herring gulls who have made Roundhill Crescent their clifftop colony), sleeping on the water, turned up at both ends The Tour is on the tv, the last two-legged tadpoles, four-legged tadpoles and mini-frogs have been released, the year is about to break in half, no long trip this time just a short holiday, Geneva and Chamonix where I hope to keep my promise to self and walk into my jigsaw picture of Les Aiguilles Rouges, but still, symbolically and from old habit this is the changeover, the end of my summer term.

A mailing from Orion? Whoa, that's weird, what can it be? To be approached with caution, but it's okay, only the SFX team deciding to elect Ax Preston as one of their Summer Reading feature's sf heroes. I'm touched, SFX people, and to satisfy Ax's multitude of eager fans here's the great dictator's portrait by Bryan Talbot.

Hoping to polish off my review of Paul Bleton's intriguing study of French espionage fiction (see what I did there?) La Cristallisation de L'Ombre today. And pay my library fines, post my letters cancel the milk and all that. It's time to hit the road.

The Ironing...

A stormy, grey windy and rainy day, clearing to soft skies, and this apparently is the weather that tadpoles like: the inhabitants of the tub outdoors, so reclusive I wondered if they were all dead, are romping around, & I have moved 2 four-legs to the swamp. Inominate hip-hops, as only pets have to suffer the indignity of cute names.

Good news this week, MIT TR are going to use my story in their Fall SF project, which I was afraid they would turn down as I stretched the brief a bit, my innovation not exactly close-to-the-market.

The story that attracted TR's attention "The Voyage Out" is one I wrote for Lynne Jamneck's well-received anthology Periphery, back in 2008, soon to be released as an ebook by Untreed Reads. "The Voyage Out" also features in Tales For Canterbury, a benefit anthology for the New Zealand Red Cross Earthquake appeal.

Moving in mysterious ways, God has caused me to do the ironing. I Never do the ironing, Peter is going to be stunned. It's purely the result of trying to write 600 words for the Guardian on a Friday afternoon.

Spoilt Rich Ladies

Wednesday 6th July, the brief spell of fine weather broke last night, rain at 7 this morning, now cool and clearing skies, a fresh breeze.

Sunday 2nd we went walking, from Beeding Hill to Devil's Dyke along the South Downs Way, then down to Poynings and back along the bottom land, where the barley is in a parlous state, between the rows cracked clay in hexagonal patterns like pack-ice forming; seems like the year can't recover from that terrible long dry spring. But already it's July, and everything has changed, the grasses seeding, the trees in their heaviest green, purple hardknott, indigo bugloss, straggling bedstraw and coarse cow parsley in the hedgerows, scabious and bird's foot trefoil, selfheal and wild thyme in the cropped turf, a flock of shorn ewes lying and strolling, still lovingingly close to their plump full-grown lambs. Purple and yellow flowers, fizzing stars of Traveller's Joy it's Bold As Love time again. I realise I've missed a whole season, or at least the whole of June disappeared. Never saw the orchids, and that's a sharp loss, since the number of orchid seasons I have left is getting far too easy to count.

Sadly, the Royal Oak at Poynings is no longer the home of the best pub sandwiches in the world, ever. It has become a huge, bustling gastro-pub, teeming with sunday lunchers, cuisine school of TTFWYCG. I had the razor clams, a Great British Menu type delicacy (obviously favoured for looking cool, like rhubarb), just about edible on this showing, and I shan't be trying them again unless I really am a shipwrecked sailor. No bread, though they came served in a bowl of milky sauce, (bread has become a luxury trimming; which is an essay in itself). Anyway, serves me right, but what about those awful "baby ribs"?

I think Spoilt Rich Ladies is fair. We were spoilt rotten, my generation, born in a socialist Utopia: free health and education for all. But if we hadn't been spoilt, kids with cr*p accents from lower class backgrounds going to University instead of into factories or into service, leaving home on a sort of government funded mass-market Grand Tour, making our souls when we should have been learning a trade or buckling down to make babies and mind machines, how would we ever have imagined we could change the world? & some of the changes did stick, & became widely appreciated & are still rated as normal. As Charles Darwin himself would have agreed, fitness selection is a terrific insight, but this should not blind us to the fact that it's the survival of the unfittest that counts...or how would change ever happen? How would the spoilt girls who became feminists ever have woken up to the plight of women worldwide, and been open to join the struggle against appalling injustice, if we had not been arrogant and trusting enough to believe our own problems with patriarchy could be fixed?

Even in the US, according to Joanna Russ, Feminism was midwifed by economic growth boosted by WWII. Hence the bitterness of the generation of Squashed Women, who brought up feminist-to-be daughters determined Not To Become Their Mothers. I've had a correspondence about this with a Facebook friend of mine, Fariba Parvizi, when she was studying sf in Tehran: what's obvious is that young women, recruited for the war effort enjoyed formative years of economic independence and self esteem in the work place, felt demoted and dumped when relegated back to household duties. What's less obvious is that in fifties US the role of household manager was vanishing too, domestic skills commodified, housewives demoted to consumers, the Age of the Desperate Housewife was dawning, idleness & cheap readymade food going mass-market, so even the poor took the hit. Double whammy, as they say.

Anyway, so I'm not all that ashamed of being spoilt, and "not knowing I was born" as a young woman. Sometimes it takes privileged innocence to say, enough is enough!

Slightly ashamed of the razor clams, however.

More links. Watch this video from Fukushima prefecture, it's pretty startling.

This charmer's explanation for talking such insulting nonsense? He didn't want doctors to flee the area.

Miss Dynamite has joined the swamp. Jay-Zee sadly did not make it. That's seven.

Didn't Buy. Won't Pay!

Friday 1st July, a cool, clear blue morning, the swifts, brilliant sun.

A rather harsh reading of The Cherry Orchard, NT live at the Duke's with Gabriel last night. Excellent cast gave fine performances but funny how a production setting out to be funny, "as Chekov intended" makes it hard to pity anybody, even (or especially not) the Turgenevish starry eyed young leads. The younger generation's verdict was harsh too, too much making speeches (he's right about that) but we both thought it picked up after the interval.

Just for the record, and in no way advocating any breaking of windows or chainings to railings, this member of the public is fully in sympathy with the 30th June protesters. My husband is a maths teacher in FE (or was, he spends at least half his time making and fixing databases these days). Long ago, knowing full well he was settling for a low salary, with the compensation of good benefits, but that if he remained a teacher he would never get any richer, he chose to work in the public sector, not for BP or Lloyds Bank. Money's not everything, he was able to spend a lot of time being a proper father too. He is not responsible for the financial services disaster. Why should he be the one paying for it, while the bankers whose pathological model of money management made the mess, stay rich and get richer? Let the bankers bail out the government.

People can and do make this connection, you know. No matter how earnestly our lovely PM wrings his hands over the irresponsible behaviour of the modestly paid.