smhwpf: (Treebeard)
First general update in some time... Well, Freshers Week is upon us, and the university springs back into life, the new students looking younger than ever. Remarkably, the main bar/coffee bar, which has been undergoing reconstruction over summer, was open from day 1. I'd been reckoning on some time in November. So let me eat my cynical, sceptical thoughts. Big hand to the builders. Although the espresso machine is not working. Can't have everything. There are other espresso outlets.

I will be teaching my two courses from last year, Microeconomics and Managerial Economics, so have the material for those, albeit with minor changes. I shall also be doing workshops for the MA students in Econometrics, but that won't involve writing new material. Plus a few lectures while my supervisor[1], the main lecturer, is away. But he's got lecture notes for that. So, all in all, not much new material to write. Finally, I shall be doing an intenstive 14 hours of introductory maths/stats teaching for the MA students next week, to prepare them for the horrors of econometrics. We have to do everything on two teaching days, so this will leave them all gibbering, quivering mockeries of humanity. Still, at least after all that the econometrics won't seem quite so hard.

Generally, I plod on, in a not entirely satisfactory manner. Late to bed, late to rise, getting the stuff done that I have to get done, but not much else. I don't seem to be able to shake this lethargy. I have ideas, I have things I want to do, but keep on finding ways to avoid doing things. I'll work it out sometime.

My weekends are filling up at least. With Readthroughs and ISM stuff and CAAT stuff and what have you. A fun weekend just past. Went to London to a Palestine Solidarity Campaign stand-up comedy night. Fortunately, I found out about Megabus, enabling me to get to London and back for a tenner, instead of the £30 I'd have had to pay on the train, otherwise it probably wouldn't have been worth bothering with, what with the amount I've been spending on travel lately.

It was an all-female line-up. The leat good was OK, most were at least quite good, and the last two, Hils Barker and Shappi Khorsandi, were very good indeed. Hils Barker is also extremely cute.

Also a chance to meet up with some of the ISMers from this summer too. Several of them were there, good to catch up with people. I stayed with Sarri (from the march) and Tom, so to those to whom I sent that email inquiring about potential crash space, I didn't end up on the streets! (I was pretty sure I'd be OK, just hadn't got any actual offers by the time I set off for London.)

So, back to Brizzle yesterday. New priests at my church. Fr. Michael, Fr. Nicodemus (from Indonesia), and one other who wasn't there at the 5.15, of the Society of the Divine Word. They've set up the aisles with all these tiles with letters on them, and when you go to communion you have to go over the tiles spelling out I-E-H-O-V-A-H or.... I had good first impressions of them. Also they are into Social Justice and stuff, which is good.

Well, I shall watch this programme on Arthur's Britain, of which I managed to miss the first two eps, then try to finish my song-fic, and maybe do some work.

Carnival

Jul. 4th, 2004 12:44 am
smhwpf: (Giles party weasel)
The St. Paul's Carnival took place today, right in my 'hood in Bristol. The big Afro-Caribbean area just north of the city centre, notorious for having a big riot in 1980, the first of the early-80s urban riots of the Thatcher era. (I think there were others subsequently). It still has low house prices, and resepctable people tell you not to live there if you value your wallet or your car window. But I don't drive and I'm well 'ard.

So, the carnival - I'd only been dimly aware of it, but when I went out my door to wander into town, the parade was passing by just at the end of the street, so I went to take a look. The floats were OK - a few lorries with some sort of music blasting out, and various school groups with some sort of colourful beast leading the way, followed by a band of gyrating children decked in like colours. I remembered the Axminster carnival from my teen years in East Devon, the 'Best of the West', when for one night in September, this utterly dull provincial backwater became a land of fairy tales and wonders, of dragons and camels and princes and djinn, and enchanted castles, and I'm probably making stuff up here, but chiefly I remember camels. The 'Road to Agadir' float, that was always my favourite. Not real camels, I think.

But the St. Paul's carnival was much more than this, as I wandered the streets of my 'hood, normally quiet residential streets, transformed into a seething throng of humanity, lined with an unending string of stalls selling jerk chicken, corn on the cob, Jamaican patties, beer, clothing and accessories, and one big Africam arty crafty stall. I didn't think it was possible to get that much jerk chicken in so small an area. (Smells gorgeous, though as a vegetarian obviously I was not partaking.) Half the houses had erected maquis at the front of their gardens, converting them for the day into shop-fronts. The economist's fantasy of perfect competition realised. And music of various sorts, mostly of black origin, blaring from speakers hither and thither, whether at the big official stages on the little greens dotted around (which seemed to be sponsored partly by my university), or just from vans or gardens.

The area seemed like a totally different place from the one I know. In a very good way. Inner-city back streets, dull by day, somewhat threatening by night, brought to life and humanised by the mass of... humanity filling them. All of us, mostly hidden behind our walls, all milling around together in a common festivity. Distances too, seemed dilated. Wandering along one of the main carnical streets, I though it was going on for miles, that it must be taking me to a totally different area, but then I came out just to the end of my (admittedly moderatley long) street. Must be because the crowd was moving so slowly.

So I wandered for a while, then went shopping in town for some stuff (mostly in preparation for my forthcoming journey, including the Arabic CD aforementioned in this journal), and home for dinner and reading some more of the new Guy Gavriel Kay fantasy.

But around 10 o'clock, I heard teh sound of fireworks, and I remembered 'Oh yeah, there's a carnival out there!', and took another look outside, whereupon I bumped into someone I know, Kim, who lives at the other end of my street, who I'd met couple of times through Respect stuff. (New lefty political party). Couple of friends of her's too. So we wandered together. The streets were even busier than before, and the music now was in full swing. To my taste not very good music for the most part, but hey.

Rockets or some such thing are booming outside.

After Kim's friends had headed home, she led me up to the Star & Garter, a well-known (it seems) lock-in pub, that I'd ended up in once before one drunken night, along with [livejournal.com profile] shreena and a random stranger who'd taken us there. I knew it was near where I lived, but hadn't realised it was pretty much just round the corner. I think we must have taken something of a circuitous route back that other night. The music was better there, and the rum was good too. On the way to the S&G is a gorgeous mural by an (apparently) well-know graffiti artist, on a church centre of some sort. A colourful Caribbean scene, with a church band, and a rainbow, and Jesus up in the air, arms held out in a welcoming gesture.

So we tarried and danced at the S&G for a while, though not so late, as Kim had been on her feet since 9am, and I have stuff I really ought to get reading this weekend, though it's not looking so likely tonight.

All in all, it seems there is far more to this neck of the woods than I had made myself aware of. Gotta get out more.
smhwpf: (Me)
Met up with [livejournal.com profile] shreena this evening. Talked lots. Drank lots. Ate food. A most pleasant evening, but coherence now out the window. Continuation of thoughts deferred.

In other news, I bought a new bike today, as my current one, which I only bought second hand as a stop-gap when I moved to Bristol, is well past its best. I think I shall call my new bike Serenity.
smhwpf: (Treebeard)
Went to visit [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn and [livejournal.com profile] evil_nick yesterday, got back yesterday. Very nice to see them as always - I think it's the first time I have seen them in a non-gathering/read-through context, so good to get the chance to talk more. [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn cooked a very nice spinach and dahl curry. Theoretically I should have been at mass for Maundy Thursday, but I think a meal shared in kindness and friendship is well in the spirit of things. And we said some prayers for peace together.

We also played the Lord of the Rings boardgame, and totally kicked ass! I was Frodo, [livejournal.com profile] evil_nick was Sam, and [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn was Merry. Not only did we destroy the ring, but we did so without having to sacrifice anyone to Sauron, who in fact didn't move throughout the game. We were indeed the luckiest hobbitses in all Middle Earth!

The LotR is quite an unusual boardgame, first in being co-operative - all the players working together to destroy the ring - and secondly in, despite this, not being boring. Though a dyed-in-the-wool peacenik, I am quite competitive by nature I think, and have no time for the idea that competitive games are a bad thing. But the thing with the LotR game is that, while working co-operatively, you are also playing your own hand for your own particular hobbit - so there's always the instinct for self-preservation working as well as the aim of winning as a team. I suppose it's somewhat like an RPG in that sense, except in an RPG your ultimate aim is the success of your character, though this will usually require co-operation in various ways, while in the LotR game the thing you score for is the collective success.

In other developments in Newbury, I am now officially Local.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!

I was exposed to the entire first series, and the first episode of series 2.

I got back to Bristol just in time for the Good Friday veneration of the Lord's Passion at my regular Catholic Church. Good service, though no I have no particular deep Good Friday thoughts to share. Easter Vigil tomorrow evening, the most fabulous service of the Church's year. And I shall have to buy myself a good bottle of malt whisky for when I get back afterwards, to further celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord (and the end of Lent!) in suitable fashion.

Ah, well, Good Friday draws to an end, and with it this entry!
smhwpf: (Treebeard)
Oh dear, my AMP score has just gone up loads! (I should keep a record of these things in case it's ever required for promotion many years from now. "Well, Dr. Perlo-Freeman, your research is clearly of international standard, and the students all love your teaching, but we need some more written evidence of absent-mindedness" to which of course the perfect response would be "Actually, I had a whole dossier written out, but I can't remember where I saved it").

Anyway, I was Christmas shopping today. My stepdad wanted something outdoorsy, sporty, (a good idea, as he's been turning into a tub of lard in recent years I'm afraid, rather worried for him, being 62 n'all, and his father died of a heart attack in his 60s). So, I decided to get him walking boots. So I looked up outdoors shops in the Yellow Pages, found a YHA Adventure Shop, looked it up on the map, cycled over, phoned up and checked his shoe size with his wife, and bought the boots, and thought mysefl most organised.

Then, much later this evening (just now in fact), remembered that I live in a flat directly above an outdoors equipment shop.

D'OH!

That's a good one even for me. Can anyone out there beat that for absent-mindedness?

A meme, from [livejournal.com profile] ashfae and [livejournal.com profile] randomchris...

I know very little about some of the people on my friends' list. Some people are real-life friends who I see frequently. Others I know relatively well: I read your fic, or we have something else in common and we chat occasionally. Perhaps you lurk, for whatever reason. But you friended me and I thank you.

But here's a thought: why not take this opportunity to tell me a little something about yourself. Any old thing at all. Just so the next time I see your name I can say: "Ah, there's so and so...she likes spinach."

I'd love it if every single person who friended me would do this. Yes, even you people who I know really well. Then post this in your own journal if you wish.


Anyway, that's most of my Christmas shopping done, what with yesterday and today, and last Sunday. Just my dad (Buffy & Angel vids, which I'll get after Christmas, when they're on BOGOF. He doesn't really bother about Christmas.) half of my brother's present (and I now know what he wants, the other half I've already bought, some LotR posters), and my step-aunt (buy something when I get up to Dundee).

In other news, finally got a letter written to a friend I'd shamefully neglected for far too long. Written, enveloped, stamped and posted. Yay for that!

Went out for dinner last night with my former supervisor, Prof. Paul Dunne, who's also at UWE now, his new girlfriend Frances, and an old friend and colleague of his from Middlesex (also now at UWE), Rebecca. She's a hoot, even though she's an accountancy professor. Lives with her girlfriend and a delightful-sounding bose in an ancient stone house in Malmesbury. A Jewish Communist. A Lesbian Jewish Commie Accountant. In Malmesbury. She has a friend who has a story worth about a zillion - incredibly aristocratic family, went to school with the then Lady Diana Spencer, who taught her to ride, and she taught Diana tennis, married some Lord forty years her senior, then had a steamy affair in Malta with the captain of the Danish Women's Football team. As Richard Littlejohn would say, you couldn't make it up.

Well, that'll do for now. As the night is still young, I think I'll curl up with Volume 3 of Tales of the Slayer which I found yesterday while Christmas shopping. Yay!

Talking of which, I should refer people to my Tales of the Slayer type fanfic, The Slayer Queen

Lot of good Buffy fanfic of various genres and by various authors at that site generally: http://www.geocities.com/stacksfic/
smhwpf: (Owl)
(Sigh). Thought I'd get this lecture done more quickly. It's stuff I know. But... diagrams are hard to draw in Word or Powerpoint. At least the way I try to draw them. It's the curves. Getting the right curvature is a bugger.

Anyway.

Quiet Saturday, but went to London on Sunday, to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn, [livejournal.com profile] spindlemere, [livejournal.com profile] fluffymark, [livejournal.com profile] gnimmel and [livejournal.com profile] purplepiano, to see the Lord of the Rings exhibition at the Science Museum, as has already been related by [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn. Like everyone else, I found it quite fantastic.

I was particularly impressed by all the digital tricks - I knew about the Gollum thing, but also things like the "Autonomous Agents" they used in battle scenes - each digital soldier/orc etc. was programmed to act autonomously, reacting to what was going on around it, fighting opponents, etc. They even found some of the Agents ran away, even though this wasn't directly in their programming!

Also the chain mail. How they eschewed the usual knitted garments with silver paint, in favour of real rings of some material or other all hand-cut and linked together. They used 12,500,000 rings in all.

But generally - just seeing all these weapons and armour and rings and mythology and settings and pictures and characters and orcs and hobbits and Aragorns and Frodos and Gandalfs etc. etc. - it created in me a sense of childlike excitement. A veritable eeeeeness of things. And good to see it with friends. :-)

Also aimed to do Christmas shopping while I was in London. This was somewhat stymied by a) my getting up late and b) the trains. All the signals were down between Twyford and Maidenhead, so I had to change at Reading and get the slow train to Waterloo, stopping at every two-up two-down commuter semi. I got to Waterloo at 2.15, due to meet the others at 3.30 at the Museum.

But I had time to wander across the Hungerford Footbridge - something which somehow always manages to cheer me up - and up to Covent Garden, where I bought a fiddle-black sycamore wood alarm clock for my mum, and an orangutan-like cuddly marionnette for my 4.5 year old niece Rachel. Then I got some posters for my brother Angus at the exhibition shop, and some more for myself. Angus is rather keen on Arwen, but unfortunately they didn't have a big Arwen poster, though there was a smaller thing.

Arwen is very nice. But I think personally I go more for Eowyn.

So, all in all, a good day, and very good to meet up with the others.

Then, the return journey. Hah!

I thought the trains would be back to normal by then. Hah! Again I say, Hah!

It seems someone put a drill through a main cable in the morning, and shut down all the signals in the Twyford area. Still not sorted out. There was a train due to leave Paddington for Plymouth, stopping at Reading where I could change, but it had to wait on the driver and train manager arriving on the delayed incoming train. Left about 9.38pm (arrived Paddington 8.45, after grabbing some dinner.) Took 1 hour 20 to reach Reading. Then had to wait ages at Reading. Apparently the delay was not just trains having to take longer through the disturbed area, but the signallers having to agree new schedules or something.

The information on offer was utterly abysmal. They were giving no idea of when trains could be expected, or even why they had no information. They had had 12 hours or more to sort things out, but they hadn't provided alternative road travel or anything. I accept the signal thing is beyond their control. But that sort of thing is not exactly uncommon. They ought to have better crisis management systems. I've been in similarly awful delays where they treated us far, far better. (Different company). First Group are rubbish. Ome of the buses they run in Bristol are pretty dire too. Fortunately I cycle most of the time.

But - I know it's a cliche, but it really is true, adversity seems to bring out the best in the long-suffering British traveller. People shared information, helped each other out, talked to each other - and not just "Isn't it awful?". The disruption disrupted us out of our normal self-contained, materially-satisfied shells. So, passed the time at Reading and on the train (when it finally arrived) in good company. Maybe there should be horrendous train delays more often.

Actually, nah. *g*

Anyway, arrived at Bristol TM at about 1.45am. And that was supposed to be me getting back onto a sane schedule.

(Sigh).

Ah well. Got my lecture done. Think it's a reasonably good one. Better get to bed.

Early night

Dec. 5th, 2003 02:37 am
smhwpf: (Owl)
Well, for me. *g* This lecture wasn't supposed to take so long to write. Curse my inefficiency! And my perpetual reading of LJ and Buffy stuff and... etc. etc. Still, it's done.

Going to London Sunday. Snapped up the spare ticket to the LotR exhibition at the Science Museum on offer from [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn resulting from the continuing detention of [livejournal.com profile] evil_nick by the evil Panasonic in China. I really ought to be spending a quiet weekend in Bristol catching up on stuff after the frenetic high-living (who am I kidding?) pace of the past couple of weeks, but, as I commented in Elly's LJ, "Seize the moment 'cos tommorow you might be dead!" Be nice to see her (plus various others) as horrible chest infection meant she had to call off my planned visit Wednesday. Hope you're feeling better Elly! (Waves :-))

Will probably spend Saturday in Bristol. Though there's lots of interesting things on on Saturday. There's a Fellowship of Reconciliation thingy at the Eirene Centre in Northamptonshire (through which I know [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn and [livejournal.com profile] evil_nick). Then there's a couple of Palestine-related things on in London. A PSC Education day, at ULU, though really I probably wouldn't learn much I don't already know. And an International Solidarity Movement preparation day for potential visitors to the Occupied Territories.

That could be relevant, as I may be going to Palestine at Easter - not through ISM, as part of a group organised by a friend of mine, Beccie - a Christian group. But for something like that the more you hear about what it's actually like, and what you should do, the better. Bit dicey out there. The idea is that you're 1) fact-finding, 2) Meeting people and showing solidarity 3) Acting as a witness in the hope of deterring the worst behaviour by the Israeli Defence Force 4) Telling people about it all when you get back and 5) Possibly standing in the way of bulldozers to prevent house demolitions etc.

Beccie's thinking of going to Rafah in Gaza, near the Egyptian border, where some of the worst house demolitions etc. have been taken place. It's also where Rachel Corrie fell, a 23-year old American girl who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer. So, little bit scary. But Beccie's been out there a number of times, including during some of the roughest time in 2002.

May still not happen. Not so easy getting in these days. Last Easter Beccie was preparing a trip, but she called it off as she thought the territories would be closed as a result of the Iraq war.

Anyway, that preparation day might be something worth going to, but I really really could do with a day off on my own here in Bristol, and I'm sure if we do go there'll be a training day etc.

Will say more about all this soonish, but for now I should sleep a bit.

And, btw, congrats to [livejournal.com profile] randomchris and [livejournal.com profile] ashfae! A crazy, lovely, and most well-suited couple of folks!

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