Skip to content

A Polite, Good-humoured Message From The Moral Majority . . .

Off We Go!

Stanhope Gate (this one's for Gabriel and Noemie!)

How pretty the trees are!

Mime Artists Against Brexit

Onwards to Pall Mall (quote is from the RevokeA50 petition instigator)

Into the home straight

The message . . .


All Done!

At the Greencoat Boy, (A lot busier than we usually find it at the end of one of these strolls)


Joanna Russ (provisionally) put to bed

I've seen the cover (not for sharing, as yet). I've responded to the last few page proof queries . . . There may be more stages that need my input, further down the line, but for now, Joanna Russ (Masters of Science Fiction Series) is off my desk. This seems an appropriate moment to celebrate, anyway. It's been a long haul, and a fascinating, absorbing task, taking in not only the writing life of one iconic female sf writer of the "Feminist Seventies", but also the story of Gernsback and the Female Utopians in the Twenties; the Cold War and domestic revival politics of the Fifties, the Cultural Revolutions of the Sixties; the Feminist Sex Wars of the Eighties . . . You can't separate Joanna Russ's fiction from her life and times. No more than you can separate her from Modernism, Erwin Schrodinger's Cat, or the United States of America (with special reference to NY state, the Great Plains, and the Pacific North West, but most of all New York city).

Never heard of Joanna Russ?
Or you read The Female Man and thought that was it?
Try her story collections, The Zanzibar Cat and The Hidden Side Of The Moon. ("out of print" but easy to find, at any online bookseller of your choice). Or may I recommend How To Suppress Women's Writing; "A provocative survey of the forces that work against women who dare to write". Not so easy to find secondhand, but readily available in the new, 2018 edition, prepared & curated by Louann Atkins. Knowledgeable, very funny, and not at all out of date.

Many thanks to all the kind, helpful people at the University of Illinois Press; to my utterly essential Indexer, and to the many others, in and out of genre, who answered my questions, lent me books, and cheered me on my way.


ps. The photo of Joanna (above) featured in an issue of "Galileo" magazine in 1978, which is where I found it. I believe it was taken much earlier, maybe as early as 1966. Many have tried, but nobody can trace the photographer.

It's People's Vote Time Again, Again . . .

An Oak Tree

Of course we'll be there on the 23rd, with our sandwiches, and our Green Party placards. Meet up on Park Lane, probably outside the Army and Navy Club, as before. Wend our way to Parliament Square, mill around a bit, take in a bit of the speeches; retire to The Greencoat Boy. I wouldn't dream of missing out. But why the hell are we still doing this? Why can't we just revoke Article 50 and have done with the whole shameless, tragic charade?

The Brexit Circus rumbles on, and on, and on, and on, yet another dreadful pantomime every evening on the Channel 4 News; yet another twist to the plot, which is exactly the same as the last "twist", but nobody seems to care, or even notice the repetition, except for a few swivel-eyed Tory/Labour rebels, who have tried to escape the toils of nightmare and only succeeded in driving themselves right over the edge. We went up to Westminster in February, for a minor #PutItToThe People/#People'sVote photo opportunity ("No To BlindFold Brexit!") and wandered about for a while; despairing among the fans; trapped in one of those long ago Michael Moorcock type, Blitz Spirit, rubble and surreality scenarios (I think I'm thinking of The Bed Sitting Room?). It was the placid cheerfulness that got me down.

lairs of the media folk

The media folk only come out after dark. The niches in hell for commoners are politely undisputed: Brexiteers cluster along the kerb-sides, shouting HOOT! and jerking their very simple placards. Les Autres, those circus fans capable of grasping that 2+2=4, favour the green retreat of Parliament Square, wear blue berets with gold stars; trail the EU flag casually over one shoulder, and their placards are full of puns, wit and wordplay. The groups don't mix (obviously). But "It's all very amicable", one of the berets told me, happily, & for a moment I was consumed with fury, because he wasn't. He really seemed to be enjoying himself.

BREXIT was brought to you by vile Tory "Austerity". By children going hungry, by failing schools, the ransacked NHS, cruelty and spying and routine humiliation; the punitive and vicious Universal Credit. By the famous "hostile environment" for migrants which was and is the special pet of our own, home grown q.fabius maximus cunctator.

It isn't a picnic! How dare you trot along here making a hobby of this atrocious debacle!

It's All Very Amicable

Indoors, of course, it's different. Especially after dark. The Speaker throws a spanner in the works (he's good for a laugh, at least); q.fabius fishes it out again . . .The Brexiteer head boys smirk and preen. Q.fabius and the smug and useless Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition exchange grimaces, across the narrow way; but you don't see a genuine smile from any of these souls in torment, only bared-teeth grimaces as the tv journalists stick those forked barbs in. Except maybe from Arlene, and that's not a thing you'd want to see twice, that smile . . .

Oh well. There's no guns involved, so far. And though the knife crime slaughter (that comes from the same, filthy, greed-is-good politics as Brexit) is piling up in our poverty-poisoned cities, we should still thank all the powers for that.

& I'll see you all on the 23rd March. Happy Days!

my sweet violets are wonderful this year

Used to be, one would say, to hell with politics, what do I care. Oak trees and violets will endure.
Not any more.


My Movies

Leave No Trace

A present from Gabriel and NoƩmie for my birthday. About a Vet father with PTSD, managing pretty well by living in total hiding in the green forests of Oregon, with his motherless child. How they get spotted, and how their relationship survives a tender (horrible intrusion to the Vet, but really tender, and respectful) attempt to rehabilitate them. Very touching, sad, and reminding me v. much of camping out in those same Oregon forests, long ago, with the most makeshift kit, on the way home from Singapore; and on a cold beach in Mexico, in an outcast camp, later on. I'll watch out for Thomasin Mackenzie.


Why does Capernaum mean "chaos"? I don't know. Harrowing, beautiful tale of Les Miserables of Beirut. Very French, very legalistic and rigidly decent at the top level, hell down in the gutters: starring a rascally little boy, his eleven year old sister, their hapless but dreadful parents, and a decent citizen of a young refugee woman from Eritrea who loses her (absolutely astounding) tiny boy, and then the two children . . . But I won't spoil it. Gripping stuff. Certainly made the Victor Hugo version (in print or on the telly) look pretty stupid.

My Light Reading

The Order of Time, Carlo Rovelli

A beautiful little object, purple and gold, made to look like it was printed in the Renaissance. "The world is made of events, not things". . . (I liked that chapter, it reminded me a lot of my story "The Flame Is Roses", and the idea (definitely not a new idea!) that on some deep, essential level, time does not pass) . . . Time seems so obvious, and then unravels badly under the cumulative pressure of hard and harder science. But all is not lost because we can call upon Marcel Proust to ravel things up again. What exactly is entropy . . .? (I've always wondered). Is this study a little too poetic? Maybe so.

Timefulness Marcia Bjornerud

All about geology, less abstruse and closer to the bone of the here and now. Only just started it, but so far this one promises less and delivers more.