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Fear To Tread. . .

Tuesday 10th December, cool and grey. We haven't seen frost on the grass yet this year. Bird action in the garden however, is picking up despite the warm weather. I like seeing them. Gabriel playing Haydn downstairs, a flying visit, he has a recital in Brighton this lunchtime at the Chapel Royal.

Fear To Tread. . .

Supersized Celebrity Charities getting asked some awkward questions, BBC Panorama tonight, it's a date. They invested the donated millions in what. They had to! It's all about money, isn't it? I'm getting really sick of the capitalism-isation of charities, and really sick of this whole concept of paying obscenely high salaries for celebrity or high-flying candidates in public or compassionate leadership roles "because you have to attract the right people."

For God's sake!

On the other hand, I feel I'd happily endorse an MP pay rise to £74,000 p.a. (a topic currently clocking a fantastic number of comments on the BBC news site.) On condition that anyone in government office, local or national, "earning", or found to be otherwise aquiring, an annual income above £74,000 p.a. should be liable to instant dismissal and a mandatory custodial sentence. Just joking.

Swings and Roundabouts

But what can you do? Either you grovellingly award rule to the Good and the Beautiful, on the grounds that probity comes naturally to the wealthy and the successful (eg George Osborne, Dave Cameron, Margaret Thatcher & the CEOs of several charities and ngos I had better not name). Or you righteously award rule to the Opposition to this natural state of things. And you end up with er, Tony Blair?

Have a great big proper old clear out occasionally; seems to be the default solution, in modern history. Maybe not the best one.

Solidarity With

The students of Sussex university, and elsewhere. The police brutality in London, as shown on tv, is looking scary.

What's wrong with this sentence?

Wednesday 4th December, colder, lighter overcast. No sign of the threatened 80mph storm Arctic Plunge, don't think we get it here on the south coast. 4-5 goldfinches on the nijer feeder this morning while I was making harira, and the starlings gang of course. We have no squirrels any more in the Crescent back gardens, which may or may not be entirely because someone got rid of the nest in their loft (not us).Squirrels with wings fill the niche.

What's wrong with this sentence? "Many individuals and groups use and cherish the night for what it is. (okay, two sentences) They do not want to put up lights but rather need darkness for their actions and doings: thieves, demons, hunters, warriors, healers, or just people wanting to celebrate. . ." I find I often know more on many article topics than the New Scientist writers these days; natural consequence of having followed (popular) science and tech stories in their helical paths for longer than writers have been alive, but this is a new one. & it's not even true. Demons are fine about doing business in the noonday sun. I read that in the Bible.

My Fracking Update

Blow from the US for the greenwash selling point about shale gas "reducing emissions"


The Ruth Galloway mysteries. I like these. Forensic anthropologist stories, based in North Norfolk. Elly Griffiths lives in Brighton, apparently, haven't read the bio but I bet she was born in Manchester.


Arctic Monkeys AM Bought the cd a few weeks ago. On my "cloud player", at my desk, this morning. Yes, I know, I know. I'm shocked at myself too.

They use what?

When we were hanging around demonstrating for the Arctic 30 a week or two ago, some woman came up and bent our ears, scaremongering about the DU-lined (depleted uranium) shaped charges routinely used in horizontal frack drilling. Smile and nod, we thought . . Apologies, lady in the chocolate flounced skirt, I feel we may have been wrong.

True or false? Mr Cameron, Mr Davey, Mr Osborne, could you please explain?

Keynote Picture: I've decided I'll use this photo, December Oak taken, near Clayton I think, this time last year; notionally representing Bob Peck as a tree, until the end of the month


Sunday 1st December, a chilly grey day. No frost yet. Starlings descend on the birdfeeders & hoover up the dried mealworms, blue tits doing damage to the suet block. Yesterday we walked around Wadhurst, through the Wealden fields and woods, over dark streams under bright leaves, looking our last and getting hungrier and hungrier as all the pubs within reach, and the Linney tea rooms, fondly remembered, were out of action. You cannot assume any given country pub will still be functioning now. . .the leaves in beautiful colour at last after a cooler spell, fabulous beeches on Argos Hill, and foraged some fine fat late season chestnuts. Today I have skinned the chestnuts, Peter has raked leaves, and we have baked our Christmas cake. No sign of Ison, sadly, but maybe it's just as well. Do we really want to see the sky full of great big comets, given all the other portents.

Q&A session

G: What do you think about Scottish Independence?

P: Not going to happen. Spain will refuse to have them in the EU. Catalonia issue

G: Ooh, yes. I never thought of that. No Dissolution for UK because everybody will want one. . .There'll be quite a few EU states with that reaction. What do you think about the UK quitting the EU?

P: xxxxxxg stupid.

G: I completely agree about the xxxxxxg stupid, but I think it's possible. I also think that in a few years, say ten years, only taxpayers in the UK will have the vote. And you should listen to me, I've been right about a few things. . .

Searching for I don't remember what I came across Troy Kennedy Martin's Northmoor manifesto, and thought again how true that bizarre unravelling ending felt (1985-style true about the future, though Kennedy Martin may have come to feel it was wrong in every detail). & I remembered crediting Edge of Darkness, in my Bold as Love Band Of Gypsys page, on just this issu. You just have to say to yourself, when you are fated to live on such a cusp, born in a hopeful world, growing up or growing older in a disaster zone, well, okaythe black flowers will bloom. Private debt collectors racking up the interest, on student loans that will keep the kids indebted for a lifetime? Not worth worrying about, it had to happen, that "government" scheme was always doomed, my son has the right attitude. Shale gas UK? It makes no sense, it will be devastating, but the signs are clear, any legal barrier will be removed, all rational protest buried deep in inside pages. Global Climate change campaigners becoming indistinguishable from battlefield emergency workers, pleading for aid from the ruthless combatants themselves? Both our leaders, Miliband and Cameron coming on strong against the mounting tides of immigration, making speeches in Parliament like an invitation to Kristallnicht? So it goes. (No doubt the Bulgarian govt would talk tough about its own "immigration" problem, if it wasn't too busy falling apart). It's history, it's the cold equations. Can't go round this thing, got to go through it.

Just haul as hard as you can, as long as you can, in the opposite direction, any chance you get. The mission is still the mission: save the future.


Saw Gravity in 3D. Excellent. Gripping, unremitting thrillride from start to finish. Fabulous special effects. A Ripley for the 21st century, who doesn't even rescue a cat, facing the real, utterly terrifiying and pitiless monster of whom that metal lobstery thing with the acid blood was a mere shadow: Outer Space itself. I have suddenly lost all desire to train as an astronaut.

Also saw Blue Is The Warmest Colour; didn't like it much. It's about two hours too long, the sex scenes are definitely exploitative (& not helped by the fact that we'd viewed Berberian Sound Studio the night before. Those who have seen both movies will know what I mean). The two main characters are cliched and boring, though to be fair, the inordinate length of the thing was hard on such a slight story, and the manipulative queen bee dyke's "art" is truly dreadful. A director to be avoided. Arthouse porn at its pompous tackiest.

Surprised By

An email from Mike Ashley (currently writing the fourth and final volume of his history of the SF magazines for Liverpool Univ Press) who has dug up part ofThe Star. Rachel Pollack's meditation on the Tarot card, an interview with Storm Constantine, reports from an Amnesty UK conference on Female Genital Mutilation, my (fondly recalled) "Big Board" gaming story, and all those crazy colours. . . I found a less tattered remnant once, but that was many years ago & I'm amazed at this survival. The things this unpredictable swamp called the internet preserves. . . Try your luck, if you have time:

Many thanks to greywyvern for identifying my Axel Oxenisterna Latin quote for me. (Do you not know, my son, with what little wisdom the world is governed?)